Media Contact

Janna Farley,

February 13, 2019

Today, South Dakota senators voted against Senate Bill 71, legislation that would have prohibited the use of the death penalty for those with serious mental illness.

The ACLU of South Dakota supported Senate Bill 71 and is disappointed that it won’t move on to the House. Capital punishment is an intolerable denial of civil liberties and is inconsistent with the fundamental values of our democratic system.

“There is a growing consensus in this country that we should not execute those whose severe mental illness led to the commission of a crime,” said Libby Skarin, policy director for the ACLU of South Dakota. “Prohibiting the death penalty for people who were severely mentally ill at the time of the crime would have been a tremendous step toward creating a fairer and more compassionate criminal justice system.”

In addition to the ACLU of South Dakota, organizations like the National Association of Social Workers South Dakota Chapter and South Dakotans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty supported Senate Bill 71.

About the ACLU of South Dakota

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 As new laws are created and others repealed or written, it’s important to ensure that these changes preserve and strengthen our constitutional rights.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

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.