AG asks Legislature again to rein in presumptive probation


SIOUX FALLS (AP) – Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg is again asking lawmakers to limit the circumstances in which judges are required to sentence low-level felons to probation rather than prison.

The proposal to rein in so-called “presumptive probation," part of a legislative package Ravnsborg announced Friday, amounts to a second try after the Legislature rejected the idea last year.

The presumptive probation law requires judges to give probation to certain nonviolent, lower-level felonies, including drug possession and use, unless there's a “significant risk” to the public. Ravnsborg made repealing it a cornerstone of his election campaign, but the effort died in the Legislature when it was estimated the repeal would cost the state $54 million over ten years.

Ravnsborg isn't seeking a full repeal this year, but wants it restricted. He is introducing bills that would disqualify people from presumptive probation if they do not cooperate with law enforcement investigations and if they have more than two offenses in a 10-year period.

“Another year has passed with presumptive probation continuing to be a failed program," Ravnsborg said in a statement.

The attorney general also wants a centralized state clearinghouse to track missing people. The state's current website does not detail all the people who have gone missing in the state.

Ravnsborg is asking the Legislature to give him tools to track tobacco retailers and cigarette importers. He also wants to increase court costs to fund the 911 system and to make people over the age of 21 who make child pornography have to register as sex offenders.

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