UPDATE: This bill was heard by the Senate, and was stopped by an 18-12 vote.
This bill would repeal presumptive probation.
We oppose this legislation. Presumptive probation, which was signed into law in 2013 as part of the Public Safety Improvement Act, requires that, when sentencing people for Class 5 or Class 6 felonies, courts are to sentence the person to probation, rather than penitentiary time.
South Dakota should preserve the presumptive probation reforms made in 2013 and recognize that prison terms for low-level offenders cause more harm than good by preventing offenders from staying in their communities where they can work and care for their families. Presumptive probation still allows judges to sentence low-level offenders to prison time if they believe it is warranted – a necessary element to ensuring judges make decisions based on their expertise and knowledge of the facts in each individual case. If presumptive probation is eliminated, taxpayers will be on the hook not just for the cost of incarcerating non-violent offenders but also for the cost of expensive new prison facilities to house them.