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KATIE ZERR: How many chances should a repeated law breaker get?

When is it time to drawn the line in giving people a second, third and fourth chance to learn lessons from their mistakes?
Since the passing of Senate Bill 70 in 2013, it seems those who are repeat offenders in Walworth County get more than their fair share of breaks. There are people whose names are in the court news repeatedly with felony charges against them, who receive their first chance at changing their behavior with a suspended imposition of sentence. That is intended to keep them on the straight and narrow by letting them know that the sentences for Class 5 and Class 6 felonies (non-violent) are still in play if that individual does not abide by the rules of the court services officer.
Time and time again, some of these same individuals violate the terms of their probation and receive yet another chance. Some people who make a mistake and get caught, are remorseful and are grateful that the State of South Dakota is not sending them to the penitentiary. Those individuals show that they deserve a second chance at changing their lives.
It is the others, those who continually break the law, have no regard for the judicial system, and waste the time and resources of area law enforcement, who squander their chances to change.
Imagine the frustration of years, months, weeks, days, and of hours of work wiped away with the stroke of a pen or the dropping of a gavel.
For the Mobridge Police Department and other law enforcement agencies in our area it happens time and time again.
In the Fifth Circuit Court in Selby, Judge Scott Myren seems be lenient on repeat offenders by giving them chance after chance and letting them remain in public no matter the number of times they appear in his court or the seriousness of their charges.
Individuals who have shown more than once that they have no respect for the law, for the health and safety of others or for other’s property, have been released after multiple violations of their probation and bonds.
These are not kids who are getting in a little trouble they are young men with felony drug charges. That is not just marijuana, but controlled substance charges. They have not learned any lessons and continue to violate the conditions of the court services officer and break the law. These are young adults who squander their second, third and fourth chances by violating the conditions of their suspended impositions and their probation.
And yet, they continue walk free in our communities.
This week several agencies were involved in what was reported to be a stolen vehicle from a First Avenue West residence. When the call came in at 2 a.m. MPD officers began a detailed search for the vehicle. Corson, Dewey and Walworth County Sheriffs Offices, Standing Rock BIA Agency and Cheyenne River Tribal Law Enforcement all joined in the search. These officers spent hours searching for this reported stolen vehicle.
About 7:15 a.m., the MPD received a report a car had gone over the high water embankment along Lake Oahe, west of the Viaduct, along the walking trail. It was the reported stolen vehicle.
The driver of the vehicle lost control on the gravel road and the vehicle skidded backward across the walking trail and vaulted off the embankment coming to a rest on the waters edge.
MPD officers were able, through investigation and by evidence at the scene arrest two individuals who were in the car on several charges.
One of those individuals at the time of his arrest for this crime, had five felony drug charges pending against him. He is an individual who has spent time in the penitentiary on felony charges.
In fact, this young man had been released from custody the Friday before this incident on several more felony drug charges.
Luckily, no one was injured during this accident, but according to several law enforcement officials, it could have been a very different story if the vehicle had not vaulted off of the embankment backwards.
The MPD determined the accident occurred while the owner’s grandson was driving and a false report was filed. Since evidence showed the vehicle had not been stolen as it was reported, the male was not charged with grand theft, but he was charged with breaking three other laws.
And yet, on Monday after the incident when he faced the judge, he was again released out into the public.
Imagine the frustration of officers who see their work efforts to keep this individual, who obviously has no regard of the law, off of the streets of Mobridge.
When is it time to say enough is enough? How many chances does one individual get before he needs to serve time for his crimes?
Hopefully it will be before someone is seriously injured or dies because of this young man’s recklessness.