PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Sexual contact between prison inmates and employees of the prison is not prohibited by law but one bill passing through the Senate is hoping to change that.

Senate Bill 119 would amend a section in Title 24 of SDCL 24-1-26.1 to include the prohibition of sexual contact between inmates and employees in South Dakota prisons. The statute currently prohibits sexual penetration in prisons but not sexual contact.

Senator David Wheeler (R-Huron) brought the bill forward to clarify what he calls an anomaly in the statute. Wheeler pointed out that 22-22-7.6 prohibits sexual contact and sexual penetration between jail or juvenile correctional facility employees and detainees. He said that sexual contact was not prohibited in the prison statute is “probably an oversight.”

Senator Michael Diedrich (R-Rapid City) asked whether this statute would extend to contract workers of the prison system who might not technically be employed by the prison but are authorized to be on the premises. Wheeler said that that would be open for interpretation.

SB 119 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with the recommendation and will next move to the Senate floor.

“To me, it’s a simple cleanup,” Wheeler said.