Ravnsborg aims to end presumptive probation

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Incoming Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg wants to do away with presumptive probation, but not everyone is on board.

Presumptive probation was part of a 2013 legislative initiative, called Senate Bill 70, to keep low level drug users out of the state prisons.

Instead of sending offenders to prison the judges will give them probation and require them to participate in treatment options.

Ravnsborg says presumptive probation ties the hands of the courts and does not fix the problem.

The Director of the Pennington County Public Defenders Office, Eric Whitcher, disagrees. He says presumptive probation keeps people out of prison and saves the tax payers money and there are better ways to address addiction.

"I would advocate for having an anti-meth campaign, the same way you have an anti-smoking campaign. They are highly effective and cost pennies to keep someone from using a drug for the first time," Whitcher said.

Not everyone gets presumptive probation. A judge can still sentence offenders to jail time for any aggravating conditions, like multiple offenses or violent crime.

It costs tax payers $22,000 to put a prisoner away for a year.

"I do believe we will be putting more people in prison but not the same kinds of people," Ravnsborg said. "I think we'll get more dealers - the people pushing this poison into our schools and our communities."