Senate committee advances bill limiting presumptive probation for drug offenders

Published: Feb. 20, 2020 at 11:07 AM CST
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The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed a bill put forth by the attorney general designed to limit presumptive probation for drug offenders.

When an inmate is convicted of a class five or class six felony, it's

assumed that person will be sentenced to probation. A judge can justify

prison time if they think it's necessary

Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg wants to change that. He says

presumptive probation is tying judge's hands and there's no threat for

the offender. Ravnsborg says cooperation has dried up since the

legislature passed this in the criminal justice reform bill in 2013.

Opponents of the bill say Doug Abraham is the lobbyist for the South Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He spoke against the bill, saying it pushes to "incarcerate ourselves out of the drug problem." Opponents also say the bill could cost the state millions of dollars.

Dakota Radio Group reports the measure passed 5-2 Thursday, and next moves to the Senate floor.