Senate Bill 52: Transferring authority at South Dakota State Prisons

Senate Bill to transfer authority from Prison Wardens to Secretary of Corrections in South Dakota
Published: Jan. 21, 2023 at 11:16 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Senate Bill 52 continues through the South Dakota state Legislature, having passed the senate and now is headed to the House Judiciary Committee. Two areas of concern are being voiced about the changes and the nature of the bill

The title of SB52 is “An act to update of certain provisions regarding the Department of Corrections and the authority of the Secretary of Corrections.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee brought the bill forward at the request of the Department of Corrections. Some items are a simple update from when there was only one prison in the state.

DOC Director of Finance and Administration Britni Skipper described the bill to the Committee. “So we refer to this as our ‘Clean up Bill.’ And what it is, there’s 69 of the 98 sections that change the name penitentiary to state correctional facility,” said Skipper.

But the bill also describes a power transfer from the Warden to the Secretary of Corrections.

Those changes include making purchases, extending the limits of confinement, and performing executions.

USD Professor Emeritus Michael Card believes it clarifies the order of delegation.

“The Secretary of Corrections is the head of the agency, already established in law, and the Secretary can delegate the authority to any head of a State Correctional Facility,” said Card.

One of the concerns is if SB52 possibly violates the single-subject rule:

“One section of the bill that didn’t seem to fit that, and it dealt with the reimbursement of Sheriffs,” said Card.

As the bill potentially moves through the House, further changes could be made to address lawmakers’ concerns.

Only one Senator voted against the bill. Senator Jim Bolin of Canton says he prefers to keep the term Penitentiary rather than State Correctional Facility.