Lawmakers crack down on pedophiles; bill calls for life

Lawmakers crack down on pedophiles; bill calls for life by Jaimi Reimer Persons convicted for a second time of molesting children may soon face a mandatory life sentence without parole.

The Senate passed SB 162, 34-1, on Feb. 3. The bill would require the mandatory life sentence unless the court finds mitigating circumstances.

Criminal pedophilia is defined in South Dakota statute as any act of sexual penetration accomplished with a victim 13 years old or younger by any person 26 years old or older. Sen. Barbara Everist, R-Sioux Falls, said the age limits were included to prevent the crime of pedophilia from interfering with statutory rape.

Everist said that a second conviction is proof positive that a problem exists.

�This is a personality and a crime that just doesn�t stop,� she said.

The senator reported that the �cure� rate for pedophiles at the Jameson Annex at the South Dakota Penitentiary in Sioux Falls was less than four percent. She also said the repeat rate for all sex offenders is 13 percent.

�As a former prosecutor in the United States Navy, having seen (pedophiles) and looked into their eyes ? I don�t believe there is capability for rehabilitation to work,� said Rep. Matthew Michels, R-Yankton. He testified in support of the bill in committee.

Sponsors of the bill are Sens. Everist, Harold Halverson, R-Twin Brooks, Michael Rounds, R-Pierre, and Reps. Michels, Steve Cutler, R-Claremont, and Roger Hunt, R-Brandon.

SB 162 now moves to the House for consideration.

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