South Dakota Attorney General lays out 2013 Legislative proposals
South Dakota's Attorney General has released legislation he is proposing at the 2013 State Legislative Session.
Attorney General Marty Jackley has submitted proposals considering juvenile sentencing, death penalty procedures, jury verdicts, sex offenses at juvenile detention centers and insurance fraud.
Here is Jackley's explanation of his upcoming proposals:
1. Juvenile Sentencing Scheme for Homicide - South Dakota along with a majority of states and the federal government have sentencing schemes that allow for mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders. In June, the United States Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama, determined that the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders without allowing some discretion for the sentencing court. Consistent with the United States Supreme Court's direction, the Attorney General is proposing a discretionary maximum sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for violent juvenile homicide offenders only after the court conducts a pre-sentence hearing to review additional evidence in mitigation and aggravation of punishment. The proposed legislation is modeled after South Dakota's presentence hearing scheme for death penalty cases that has withstood repeated Constitutional challenges.
2. Death Penalty – South Dakota law currently protects the identity of any person administering a lethal injection sentence. Disclosure of protected information is a Class 2 misdemeanor. The Attorney General is proposing expanding the protected information to also include any "entity supplying" the substance or substances used in carrying out a lethal injection sentence and also making it a more serious Class 1 misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to one year in jail. The legislation is designed to protect the privacy and safety of manufactures and pharmacists.
3. Respecting Jury Verdicts – South Dakota law presently allows the trial court to set aside or to reverse a jury's verdict in a criminal case. In the limited instances when the trial court sets aside a jury's verdict, the legislation would grant the right to appeal the trial court's decision to the South Dakota Supreme Court to ensure that there exist an appropriate legal basis to set aside the jury's determination.
4. Juvenile Correction Officers Engaging in Sexual Acts - Under current South Dakota Law, any person employed at a jail or juvenile correctional facility who knowingly engages in an act of sexual contact or penetration is guilty of a Class 6 felony punishable by up to two years imprisonment. Based upon a case that arose in Minnehaha County, and in the interest of protecting juveniles that are in the care and custody of a juvenile correction facility, the Attorney General is requesting that if the sexual contact or penetration is upon a juvenile victim, that it becomes a more serious Class 4 felony punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
5. Insurance Fraud – During the 2011 Legislative Session, the Insurance Fraud Prevention Unit was transferred to the authority of the Attorney General by executive order. The
Jackley is also expected to participate in discussions regarding open government, criminal justice and synthetic drugs.
The attorney general has been participating in the governor's open government sessions to improve South Dakota's open meeting and record laws. Jackley anticipates supporting joint legislation with the Governor to achieve the overall recommendations of the task force and to improve government.
The attorney general has also participated in the state's criminal initiative review. In a news release, Jackley explained his offices role in South Dakota's Crime Initiative will be to improve public safety by placing greater emphasis on the more serious criminal activity, and by supporting stronger monitoring and alternative sentencing opportunities including drug and alcohol courts.
The Attorney General's Office is also working with the South Dakota Department of Health to evaluate further legislation to address the ongoing concerns of synthetic drugs.
The 2013 Legislative Session starts Tuesday, with the Governor's State of the State Address at 1 pm.
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