The South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, as seen on Jan. 9, 2023. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)
The state House of Representatives endorsed a bill that would require sentences of life without parole for people convicted of raping young children.
The version of House Bill 1192 passed Tuesday afternoon was less severe than the original. Rep. Ben Krohmer, R-Mitchell, had aimed to open up death sentences for such offenders, but the House Judiciary Committee amended it before endorsing it 11-0.
The current penalty for the rape of a child younger than 13 is up to life in prison with the possibility of parole and a possible $50,000 fine. That’s a Class C felony, on par with first-degree manslaughter or aggravated kidnapping.
The change in HB 1192’s amended form would move first-degree rape into the category of Class B felony, where life without parole is a mandatory sentence. First- and second-degree murder charges fall under that felony class. First-degree murder is Class A, which is the only class where the death penalty is possible.
“This bill seeks to punish and deter one of the most heinous crimes imaginable,” Krohmer said on the House floor.
No one else spoke in support of the bill, nor did anyone speak in opposition. It passed 67-0 and now moves to the Senate.
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