Today, House lawmakers voted to pass legislation that would restrict parole and mandate that people serving time for certain offenses complete their entire sentences.
The ACLU of South Dakota opposes Senate Bill 146. This bill prescribes a one-size-fits-all solution to a very complex issue that increases costs to the state’s prison system and lacks a thoughtful approach to real-people’s lives.
“Locking people up and throwing away the key is not going to fix society’s problems,” said Samantha Chapman, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “If we want to improve public safety, we need to increase investment in rehabilitation and reentry, not incarceration. By eliminating the possibility of parole for entire groups of people who are incarcerated, there is no motivation for self-evaluation and genuine desire for change.”
Research has shown that locking people up for more time does not make communities safer. Incarceration has a marginal and diminishing effect on decreasing community crime and can impose social and economic costs that can even cause crime to increase.
“South Dakota taxpayers are footing the bill for a bloated prison system that has failed to make us safer,” Chapman said. “Tough-on-crime policies like this aren’t working. It’s time for a new approach.”
About the ACLU of South Dakota
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The team in South Dakota is supported by staff in those states.
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 LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit 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 the people of South Dakota.