The ACLU of South Dakota opposes Senate Bill 19, a bill that would repeal presumptive probation.
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," said Libby Skarin, ACLU of South Dakota policy director. “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 at a price tag of more than $224 million.”
Decisions made during the annual sessions of the South Dakota Legislature have a deep and lasting impact on our state’s people and communities. As new laws are created and others repealed or written, it’s important to ensure that these changes preserve and strengthen our constitutional rights. For up-to-date information on the bills the ACLU of South Dakota is tracking, go to www.aclusd.org.
About the ACLU of South Dakota
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection, and privacy are fundamental to a free people. In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBT communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for people of South Dakota.