PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Legislation from an interim committee on juvenile justice moved forward this week in the South Dakota Legislature — but not in the way its sponsors intended.
State senators kept alive SB-4 that would let a judge commit a juvenile offender to the South Dakota Department of Corrections if the child has been previously adjudicated delinquent for a separate delinquent act within the preceding 12-month period.
The original legislation said the juvenile could be committed to DoC after three or more separate delinquent acts within the preceding six-month period. The period was expanded by the Senate Judiciary Committee to 12 months.
On Tuesday, Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck called for the previous acts to be narrowed to one. He recited a history of how South Dakota gradually closed its juvenile institutions during the Janklow and Daugaard administrations. He said schools now were serving that role instead.
His amendment prevailed on a 18-17 vote.
Republican Sen. David Wheeler had been one of the original co-sponsors but called for the bill to be killed after Schoenbeck’s amendment succeeded.
Republican Sen. Erin Tobin however urged senators to keep the bill alive. She pointed some of her remarks at Schoenbeck.
“It’s very important for us to understand why fences were built before we tear them down, and I wish the senator from Watertown, (I) wish I would have saw him more during the committee meetings this summer, because he could have shared more of this with us,” Tobin said.
The Senate passed the Schoenbeck version on a 29-6 vote. It now heads to the House of Representatives, where Republican Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt is lead sponsor.