Ravnsborg Proposes "Stair Step" Reduction To Presumptive Probation

Oct 22, 2019

Credit State of South Dakota

Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg is proposing two pieces of legislation he calls “stair step” reductions to presumptive probation.

Ravnsborg proposed the legislation during a legislative summer study on controlled substances offenses. Some committee members say it’s out of the committee’s scope.

Republican Attorney General Ravnsborg dropped two draft legislation during a summer study committee meeting.

An offender can be sentenced to prison for a drug crime if it’s an aggravating circumstance. One proposal includes failing to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation of a violation an aggravating circumstance.

Another proposal states a person is only entitled to presumptive probation for two offenses within a ten-year period. After the third offence, the court has discretion to sentence the person to prison.

Ravnsborg says this proposal is not a full repeal of presumptive probation, but rather a stair step repeal.

“You have a couple chances, but you know that looming is coming,” Ravnsborg says. “We even put a ten year look back provision, just like a DUI, so that it’s not forever. It gives them incentive to cooperate and reform.”

Ravnsborg was unable to repeal presumptive probation during the last legislative session. It’s an issue he centered his campaign for Attorney General on in 2018.

During the session, a cost estimate showed an almost 54-million dollar prison cost increase over a ten year period.

Democrat State Senator Craig Kennedy says the proposals are out of the committee’s realm.

“We are charged with looking at alternatives to imprisonment for any person charged and convicted of controlled substances offenses in order to more adequately assist the person with substance abuse issues,” Kennedy says. “These two drafts are way beyond that.”

Chair of the committee, Republican Speaker of the House Steve Haugaard says the group may have side conversation about the attorney general’s proposed legislation.

The Offenses Regarding Controlled Substances Committee meets again next week on November first.