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Letter: Your legislators heard calls for action on crime
‘Truth in Sentencing’ team effort between legislators, public safety advocates
It may not happen as often as we’d like, but every once in a while, your elected officials hear your concerns and reshape laws to better serve and protect the public. Senate Bill 146 — “Limited Parole for Violent Offenders” — is a case in point.
Though issues and priorities vary based on whom you ask, Sioux Falls area voters consistently rank violent crime as a top issue of concern in our great city. Citizens are concerned about violent offenders who are released after serving a small percentage of their sentences. Citizens are concerned about crimes like rape, aggravated assault and shootouts with police. Violent offenders, though a very small percentage of the population, often account for a disproportionate percentage of crimes. Attempting to address these concerns, SB 146 (a.k.a. “Truth in Sentencing”) was developed as a team effort between law enforcement and legislators. Rep. Sue Peterson of District 13 served as lead in the House of Representatives and reflects great credit upon the district she serves. Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Daniel Haggar and Sheriff Mike Milstead worked tirelessly to educate legislators about public safety. Mayor Paul TenHaken also advocated for the bill and lobbied your legislators. Lastly, many citizens shared personal stories about crime and pushed for passage of this landmark bill. Though I served as prime sponsor in the State Senate, it was never my bill. It was our bill, and I’m hopeful it will make a lasting difference for law enforcement and communities across South Dakota.
While SB 146 isn’t a cure-all, it’s an important step forward for public safety, and I’m hopeful we can make further improvements next year. Your elected officials will be listening. After all, we work for you.
Sen. Brent Hoffman
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