Bill Reversing State’s Presumptive Probation Law Passes Senate Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee passes a bill to reverse the state’s law on presumptive probation for lower-level felonies.

This despite the fact that Governor Kristi Noem is asking lawmakers to hold off on reversing the law. Her administration says the measure would cost at least 33-million dollars in new prisons.

The bill is the cornerstone of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s legislative agenda.

Presumptive probation requires judges to sentence people who have committed certain nonviolent, lower-level felonies to probation rather than prison, unless there’s a “significant risk” to the public.

Testimony on the bill came Tuesday with committee discussion and action Thursday.

State Senator Lee Schoenbeck of Watertown spoke in favor of passage.

Senator Art Rusch of Vermillion is opposed. He says the percentage of people going to prison in these categories didn’t drop that much, from 28 to 16-percent.

Committee Chair Lance Russell of Hot Springs says the justice reform that included presumptive probation has been an “unmitigated failure…”

The bill passed 5-2 and now moves to the Senate floor.

(Brookings Radio)