PIERRE, S.D. — Anyone age 21 or over who is found guilty of a disseminating a visual recording or photographic device without consent and the victim is age 17 or younger will be listed on the federal and state sex offender registry under proposed legislation.

Lawmakers discussed Senate Bill 47 during a Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Jan. 21 where South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg testified in support of the bill.

The U.S. Department of Justice Sex Offender Registration is reccomending that those found guilty of the felony act be listed on the registry, Ravnsborg said. A total of three people are convicted of the felony criminal act per year in South Dakota, and including them on the registry would ensure the state's compliance with the Department of Justice, Ravnsborg told the committee.

Justin Bell, a lobbyist for the South Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, testified against the bill saying that it would ruin lives.

“The whole purpose of sex offender registry are really to focus on people that are at risk to reoffend, someone who is really a threat to the public,” Bell said. “Dissemination of child pornography, everytime you add a new offense to this, you end up getting people who may not be your typical sex offender get on the sex offender website. It ruins people's lives.”

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The committee voted to defer taking action on SB 47 to a later time.

Law enforcement reimbursement

The committee also heard another bill that would reimburse law enforcement officers for the cost of providing victims with food or shelter.

In rural areas of the state, shelter services aren’t always available for victims during a crisis. Law enforcement officers in those situations often pay for shelter and food for victims.

Senate Bill 44 would allow law enforcement officers or agencies to seek reimbursement for actual expenses incurred for the payment of emergency expenses, including food and shelter for a person if the officer reasonably believes the person is the victim of a crime and no other services were reasonably available at the time.

The reimbursements would be taken from the state’s Victim Compensation Fund without incurring any additional fees.

Dan Lusk, deputy secretary of the state Department of Public Safety, said there’s adequate funding to cover the requests that may be made. Lusk said the fund holds $400,000 to $500,000 annually.

“I am wholeheartedly for this, the kindness and the goodness and humanity offered in rural areas by our officers out of their own pockets who have stepped up and taken the bull by the horns, saying ‘I don’t care I’m going to take care of you’,” District 21 Sen. Rocky Blare, R-Ideal, said during the hearing.

District 30 Sen. Lance Russell, R-Hot Springs, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, also expressed his support of the bill.

“I’ve always felt that the crime victims compensation fund was never quite adequate,” Russell said. “I've had situations where I tried to get some assistance after sentencing and that kind of thing, and it’s been too conservative over the years. This is a step, as far as I’m concerned, in the right direction.”

The bill was approved unanimously by committee members.