(Back to Confronting)
Ordinary people vulnerable to criminals with a grudge?
The fact is, Amendment E will protect ordinary people from an out-of-control government. Does it make common sense that the People of South Dakota, through Amendment E, in "reform[ing] their forms of government in such manner as they may think proper" (Art. VI, §26, South Dakota Constitution) would think it proper to "make ordinary people vulnerable to criminals"? That provision (§26) indicates that the culprit is government, and in the case of Amendment E, through reform the people will be made invulnerable to an unaccountable judiciary.
Read the below 9/18/06 Rapid City Journal article, followed by our comments.
RAPID CITY — At the end of August, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office had 7,268 active warrants.
Lt. Lynn McLane of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office stands by the file cabinet that holds 15 drawers containing the thousands of open misdemeanor warrants in the county. Hundreds are added each week. (Steve McEnroe, Journal staff)
That includes felonies, misdemeanors and city warrants.
Lt. Lynn McLane of the sheriff’s office wants people with warrants to take care of their problems before they get out of hand. (i.e., before Amendment E passes -j4j)
Beginning this week, lists of existing warrants in the Pennington County area will be published in the Rapid City Journal. The lists will be published alphabetically each week, beginning with A.
McLane said publishing felony-alert warrants in the Journal has been an effective way of handling the warrants.
One person featured in a recent felony alert turned himself in Sept. 11.
“So I really do believe the publication of warrant information is very effective,” McLane said.
She said of the 39 felony alerts published, 17 people have been apprehended after the publication.
It is rare for someone to have a warrant and not be aware of it.
“We have a very active volunteer program at the sheriff’s office that makes phone calls on a weekly basis,” she said. “They notify people or leave messages for them.”
Letters are also sent. Because of glitches with the sheriff’s office computer system, letters stopped being sent in June, but McLane said that process will soon begin again.
When people receive traffic citations, they receive a slip that tells them that if they do not pay the fine within 10 days, it turns into a warrant.
“It is a small percentage of warrants that people don’t have some inkling that either they have one or one is coming out,” McLane said.
She said an example of that would be if someone was investigated over a period of time for a crime and had not yet been notified of his or her charges.
Many warrants are issued because people miss court dates or do not make a fine payment on time.
“We want people to know there are ways to handle this without it getting out of control,” McLane said.
Often, people do not pay a fine on time because they do not have enough money. McLane said that often, payment plans can be established with the approval of a judge, but people must schedule a court appearance and show up on time for that to happen.
McLane said people can contact an attorney to help them deal with the warrant on their own time.
“We work with attorneys all the time to help people handle their warrants,” she said.
McLane said people who do not handle their warrants put themselves in a difficult situation when they get pulled over or are approached by authorities — even for a minor offense — because they immediately go to jail, rather than get a chance to compile bond money or make payments on a fine.
“It’s not going to go away,” she said. “If they run from it, the longer time goes on, the less control they have over that situation.”
Aside from McLane, one sergeant and two full-time deputies work in the warrants division. The entire sheriff’s office staff handles calls on warrants, and all deputies serve them. The information is shared with the Rapid City Police Department, which also helps with warrants.
She said one of the greatest challenges in handling warrants is trying to find creative ways to contact people to give them the information they need about warrants.
“When people have a warrant or think they have a warrant, they get scared and are afraid to contact us,” she said. “They think they’re going to jail or might not be able to get it taken care of.”
McLane said people who want to take care of a warrant may call the sheriff’s office at 394-6117 or come to the office at 300 Kansas City St. in Rapid City at 7:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Arrangements can then be made for the person to appear in court that same day at 10 a.m. if an appearance is necessary.
“Not all of them require a court appearance,” McLane said. “In many cases, it’s just a matter of paying off a fine.”
She said those who come into the office at 7:30 a.m. are not held in custody before the 10 a.m. hearing.
“We just give them the information, and then they can come in,” she said.
People who know or believe they have an existing warrant can contact the warrants division of the sheriff’s office at 394-6117.
Contact Katie Brown at 394-8318 or email@example.com
Analysis by Ron Branson
Let's explore the ramification of the above article. Pennington County is but one of the sixty-six counties in South Dakota. We are told that Pennington currently has 7,268 outstanding warrants against its citizens in their county alone, with hundreds more being added each and every week.
What entered my mind, based upon these statistics, is what would be the total if we considered the entire State of South Dakota? While admitting this is a crude estimate, I multiplied 66 times 7,268 and got 419,688 criminals in South Dakota with outstanding warrants. This number represents well over half the population of South Dakota. Even if we play with these numbers, any way one figures it, this represents an intolerable number of outstanding "criminals" out there running around that need to be arrested. In fact, I contend that we are here talking numbers that represent a massive state crisis, if true, that needs to be taken care of soon. Obviously, things are getting totally out of hand.
Now let us appeal to respected authority that addresses this subject. Let's appeal to our Declaration of Independence which says, "He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance." When government sends out swarms of new officers, things do automatically get out of hand! The result is that the ordinary people become vulnerable to these officers. These officers bring in ordinary citizens by the truck loads for the purpose of raising revenue for the politicians and judges to spend.
Not only do these officers bring people in, but these people are denied due process by the judges who "depriv[e] us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury." Decl. of Independence.
Our U.S. Constitution, to which every officer and every judge swears with an oath to uphold, says, "The trial of all crimes, except in case of impeachment, shall be by jury." Does this mean that all 7,268 people in Pennington County, or 419,688 in South Dakota, are entitled to a trial by jury? Wow! This would be literally impossible time-wise to put all these hundreds of thousands of "criminals" on trial. May I suggest that maybe many, if not most of these "criminals," are not really criminals at all, but merely ordinary people who have become vulnerable victims of a behemoth government that has become out-of-control and knows no better than "to harass our people, and eat out their substance," i.e., all they want is to collect those $$$! This is what is called "cashier justice," jes' pay the cashier and you have received "justice." It relieves your conscience and makes you feel real gooood!
Amendment E will provide a remedy for all these hundreds of thousands of South Dakotans by providing them with the constitutional due process of a jury trial. Do we hear any arguments from the opposition opposed to giving these ordinary people this due process? Quiet.... - hmmm.