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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

Penalty Enhanced For Sex With Juvenile Inmates

By Victoria Wicks
Juvenile detention officials will face stricter penalties for having sex with children in their care if a bill proposed by the attorney general becomes law.
Under current South Dakota law, a corrections officer who has sex with a 16- or 17-year-old inmate commits a class six felony and faces two years in prison. State law has set the age of consent at 16, and so statutory rape laws don’t apply.
But Attorney General Marty Jackley told the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday that children in custody are particularly vulnerable, and age of consent should not be a consideration.
“When a correction officer does take advantage of a situation involving a juvenile, that correction officer would be facing an enhanced penalty. Instead of a two-year felony, it would be up to a 10-year felony,” Jackley says.
The attorney general says he agrees with committee chairman Craig Tieszen “that we need to protect juveniles, and that we hold law enforcement to a higher standard, particularly when we trust our juveniles with them in their facilities.”
Jackley says sex with inmates under the age of 16 has been prosecuted as a class 4 felony, and that practice will continue.
The attorney general told legislators that the bill was inspired by a case in Sioux Falls.
The Senate Judiciary Committee of the South Dakota legislature gave a do-pass recommendation to the proposal Tuesday.