What Should South Dakota Do with Sex Offenders About to Get Out of Prison?
Once or twice a month, South Dakota pardons and parole board member Dave Nelson has to help make a difficult decision. What should the state do with sex offenders who are about to get out of prison?
According to Nelson, the former Minnehaha County States Attorney, there are two hard choices: Put them on parole with many conditions, such as counseling, wearing a GPS monitor and having their computer monitored or protecting the public by letting them “flat line” - serve their entire sentence then get out with no further monitoring.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but keeping the sex offenders in prison for their full sentence isn’t necessarily always the best alternative, according to Nelson.
“Do we keep this guy in prison until the last day of his sentence and protect society for that 18 months, with the realization that then that guy is going to get out and he’s not going to have any supervision, we’re not going to have any control over him, we know he’s dangerous.”
Besides those issues, there's the potential liability to the state if the released sex offender perpetrates again.
These choices for the parole board are stark - and full of potential consequences for both the offender and any potential new victims.
“The high risk sex offender who is near his, nearing the end of his penitentiary term, is, in my opinion, is just really a tough one for us."
The nine-member board meets 8:00 AM Thursday at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls. The meeting is open to the public. Parole board panels also meet during the month in Springfield, Rapid City, Yankton, Pierre and Sioux Falls.
Nelson made his comments on KSOO-AM’s Viewpoint University program Wednesday.