A new bill, called “Truth in Sentencing,” would require people convicted of serious violent crimes to serve either all or a majority of their sentence before being eligible for supervised release or parole, a step toward a tougher stance on who gets released from prison.
Those in favor of the two-part bill, like the South Dakota Attorney General, the Minnehaha County State’s Attorney and Sioux Falls Police Department chief, argued that South Dakota cities are facing a wave of violent crime being committed by people who have violent criminal records,
Meanwhile, opponents worried it could lead to increased prison populations in a state where the prisons are already overcrowded, and de-incentivize programing like addiction treatment.
Freshman Sen. Brent Hoffman, R-Sioux Falls, brought the bill after having conversation with law enforcement, various state’s attorneys and others involved in the criminal justice system. He called it a landmark law and order bill while explaining its various sections.
“It is not a cure-all for every crime that ails us, but I think it is an important first step to address the violent crime in particular that so ravages our community, affects our citizens, and for which they want us to do something about,” Hoffman said.
Currently, inmates can gather sentencing credits, from either their time served in jail before they had their trial or by attending programming. These credits can then be applied for a shortened sentence, making the person parole eligible. The bill would change parts of this programming, depending on the person’s crime.
In the first section of the bill, anyone convicted of one of 13 high level violent crimes, such as first-degree manslaughter and first-degree human trafficking, would have to serve the full sentence imposed on them by a judge without credits for a shortened term. The inmate would then be eligible for supervised release.
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