Recently, law enforcement officials within South Dakota have said violent crimes are continually being committed by repeat offenders who have lengthy criminal records or are out on parole.
This issue is something the Sioux Falls Police Department is dedicated to combatting through a new unit of detectives.
Making the decision to report a violent crime that happened to you isn’t always easy.
“Many victims, their motivation for following through on prosecuting or reporting a crime is to prevent this from happening to someone else,” Michelle Trent, executive director of the Compass Center, said.
Seeing criminals continue to re-offend can take away hope from victims.
“When we see offenders continually re-offend, that impact, that victim, is like, ‘man, I did all this, I sacrificed so much of my life and told my story and did all of the really terrible things that happened when it comes to court related to crimes and then to have them do something else or plea down to a lesser charge and then go out and re-offend.’ So it’s a really difficult thing for their healing but also a really difficult thing for them to feel like they weren’t able to protect somebody else,” Trent said.
And if the court system seems to fail one victim, the next might not want to report at all.
“There’s a lot of barriers that exist just in the way that structures are built and communities are built,” Trent said. “But then when you watch and see what happens in another case and you go, ‘well that person has had multiple violent charges or multiple convictions, why would mine be any different.’ Why would I go through all of this if it’s just going to end up like that.”
A bill that made it through this year’s legislature hopes to address the issue of reoffenders by limiting parole for violent offenders — making them serve all or at least 85% of their prison sentences once convicted.
“I certainly think we would love to see there be more convictions,” Trent said. “You know, when you’re talking about violent crimes like domestic violence, sexual assault, those are really had crimes to prosecute. And we know that the prosecutors office is so busy and so extra support from the county and the city and all of those entities to support being able to prosecute people and being able to hold them accountable I think is the first step.”
You can read the full article at KELO TV.