Ending presumptive probation cornerstone of new AG's agenda

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – South Dakota's incoming attorney general plans to follow through on his tough-on-crime campaign plan to reverse the state's presumptive probation policy for some lower-level felonies.

Attorney General-elect Jason Ravnsborg told The Associated Press recently that ending presumptive probation would be the cornerstone of his legislative agenda for the upcoming session. He says the move would give the courts more flexibility.

Presumptive probation is credited with helping avert expensive prison population growth. Critics argue ending it would open the floodgates to imprisoning significantly more people after South Dakota in 2013 passed a Republican-led justice system overhaul to tackle prison overcrowding, cut costs and expand drug addiction treatment options.

Ravnsborg says it would add a "stick" to the justice system and give judges the discretion they were trusted with before the overhaul.