Parole eligibility requirements could change for violent crimes in South Dakota

South Dakota lawmakers ponder ensuring violent criminals don't get back on the streets.
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 7:38 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - House lawmakers on Tuesday passed Senate bill 146, known as the “truth in sentencing bill.” This would make criminals serve their entire sentence with little to no possibility of parole for certain violent crimes.

Parole eligibility requirements in South Dakota would change for violent crimes and would break down these crimes into two categories.

This bill would make the most violent criminals serve 100% of their sentence, while crimes in the next tier would serve at least 85% of their time.

Passing this bill means that it would cost roughly around 21 million dollars to increase sentencing time.

“There are some of these cells that have twice the number of people in them than they should. So, they talk like it’s only going to cost 21 million, that doesn’t take into account whatsoever the fact that more prisons will have to be built, and that cost will have to be absorbed. And that even more down the line would have to be built because as these people get convicted and their parole eligibility is higher they stay in longer and then it just builds up kind of like an ice jam,” said Timothy Rensch, Attorney at Law.

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota opposed this bill and stated that there are studies done that show that imposing a mandatory sentence time without parole does not help crime rates.

“That 21 million dollars instead could go towards re-entry programs, could go towards more parole officers and better oversite. It could go towards more rehab programs, but instead, it’s going toward longer prison sentences,” said Samantha Chapman, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager.

However, bill sponsor Republican Sue Peterson from Sioux Falls said, “It doesn’t take away from any judge’s discretion and what would be an appropriate sentence... remember the victims.”

This bill will not change parole for non-violent offenders.

The measure passed 53-17 and now waits for Governor Kristi Noem’s signature.