Bill To Undo 2015 Juvenile Reforms Passes First Committee Hearing

Feb 7, 2019

Executive Director Wade Pogany, Associated School Boards of SD
Credit Associated School Boards of SD

Prosecutors and school administrators traveled to Pierre earlier this week to stand up for Senate Bill 67. That bill allows judges to more easily send troublesome juveniles to the supervision of the Department of Corrections.

The bill undoes some of the reforms of 2015, when the state passed the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative.

The initiative's purpose is to lower the juvenile incarceration rate and provide children with needed services within their communities. The law also requires reserving DOC out-of-home placements for the worst offenders and creates a presumption of probation for juveniles committing nonviolent or status offenses.

A status offense is behavior that would not be illegal for an adult: running away, truancy, smoking, drinking, and so on.

Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo
Credit Victoria Wicks file photo 2016

Testifying against Senate Bill 67 were officials from DOC, the Department of Social Services, the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the work group charged with making the 2015 initiative work.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks listened to testimony given on Tuesday, Feb. 5, for this report.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on SB 67 for more than an hour and heard from several professionals, including Brown County State's Attorney Chris White; Staci Ackerman, SD Sheriffs' Association; Hughes County State's Attorney Roxanne Hammond; Karly Winter, deputy Brown County state's attorney; Brookings County State's Attorney Dan Nelson; Clay County State's Attorney Alexis Tracy; Rob Monson, School Administrators of SD; Lyman County State's Attorney Steve Smith; Chief Deputy Attorney General Charlie McGuigan; Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo; Minnehaha County State's Attorney Rhett Bye; Mitch Richter for United School Association of SD; Dianna Miller for Large School Group; Wade Pogany, executive director for Associated School Boards of SD; Paul Bachand, executive director, SD State's Attorneys Association;  Lori Martinec, SD Police Chiefs Association; Kristi Bunkers, DOC; Greg Sattizahn, Unified Judicial System; Justin Bell, SD Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; and Amy Iversen-Pollreisz, deputy secretary, Department of Social Services.

To hear the testimony in its entirety, click on this link.