Legislators are back advocating for criminals instead of victims.

The Argus Leader has a story out there today where, once again, we have Republican legislators who have their priorities backwards. 

Because they’re out there advocating to make life easier for criminals, as opposed to victims:

State Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, is among those who thinks the next criminal justice reform should include a discussion of how to help people leaving prison as a way to prevent them from returning.

“These people should have an opportunity to re-enter the workforce,” Tieszen said. “Obviously, they won’t be automatically hired, but they deserve equal opportunity to re-enter the workforce.”

Tieszen, who recently advocated for legislation to restore ex-convicts’ voting rights, said the state could use a “ban the box” law.


We’re just locking people up and shaming them. … It’s a broken system, and South Dakota I think is a good place to experiment with change,” Hickey said. “I believe the best way to help them is to treat them as human beings.”

Read it all here.

If some of these guys spent as much time working to ensure crime victims were made whole, and criminals were held to full account for the damage they do to people’s lives, I might be more sympathetic.

But they don’t. They spend an inordinate amount of time trying to make the criminal whole, as opposed to the people whom they might have damaged along the way.

Until victims are restored, criminals should not expect to participate fully in society.

It is a privilege that should be earned. Not handed back.

31 thoughts on “Legislators are back advocating for criminals instead of victims.”

    1. Steve Hickey is a broken legislator, and pastor.

      Time to find some healing Steve.

  1. PP: Congrats! Finally a conservative point of view on this site. First time in two or three years. What is the possibility of a real critical analysis on this site of the Governor’s Criminals Safely Reform Act?

  2. As a reminder, I spent a 32 year career in law enforcement holding criminals accountable and I continue to believe in that principle. The reality is that almost all criminals get out of prison. If they have no opportunity to become productive citizens they will almost certainly return to being criminals. And then, we all continue to be victims.

    1. Craig: Your real and most recent experience is as a liberal bureaucrat pencil pushing Monday morning quarterback. The hard work of holding folks accountable were the decisions of the judges who had to make the gut-wrenching decisions to place the threats to people/society in jail. Let’s be frank, you and the Governor have made the citizens of South Dakota less safe and it will become apparent to the average South Dakotan in due time. All the spin in the world won’t stop the truth from coming out. You have done as much to undermine the safety of the people in your profession in South Dakota, as Obama has done in his corresponding soft-on-terrorism campaign of catch and release concerning the safety of our military and the people of the entire world. You and the Governor should pat each other one the back for a railroad job well done.

    2. Craig – most, including myself, are well aware of that.

      As a long-time witness to the human carnage left in the wake of crimes against everyday citizens, it makes it far more confusing why you seem to focus on taking care of the needs of felons, with nary a comment towards the needs of victims, and making them as whole as possible (when applicable) before we restore the citizenship of those who committed crimes against them.

      I don’t disagree that criminals need to be productive once released, but victims’ rights should take far more of legislator’s time and attention, and be a main focus. Not just a backwards glance.

  3. That depends on the term “criminal”. Many are incarcerated because of mental health issues and courts not knowing what to do with these indivduals. What does “victim” mean to you?
    We need to go to the root of the problem on a different level. Criminal minds are just that, criminal and enforcement needs to happen….however mental health and IQ issues is another one, where is the mental health / educational sevices? Transition issues are just not in the prison system but it happens to be in our education system, too. (How many of these criminals where on a special education plan/mental health plan) where is the stats and tracking of these critical numbers for this large group? Educational/medical fraud needs to be enforced as it is criminal to push a young adult in society knowing the student and/or young adult does not have the mentality or basic life skills to survive in society. Experimenting is not the answer as enforcement from the start of a crime is more important and there is proof of these crimes with signatures and dates with “experts” from a federal contract called an IEP. There are signatures everywhere HSC, Turtle Creek , JD Centers. Accountability to our tax payers from the start is the answer- not the end. White collar crimes in our education system is one issue to be investigated-education funds also go to our prison systems too. The state of Georgia enforced it-because that state lost federal funds due to “Discrimination based on diasabilty”. Get to the source…follow the money and see if we as tax payers are getting our ROI. If not who is the real criminal? 2nd chances need to happen, but why need 2nd chances when we need to be looking at the bigger picture. The cause.

  4. The questions the reporter asked were not about victims, they were about recidivism and incarceration. A fraction of what I said was printed. It is impossible to know what I said from what is written there.

    My concern is the entire value system under our system of justice is flawed. It’s merely punitive. We punish depravity. If we want to restore people to the place of good citizenship we need to begin that process the moment we lock them up. There is much written on restorative justice. Instead of merely punishing depravity my comments were related to the importance of introducing them to their value and dignity as human beings. As is we send them back out madder and harder than they were before and we all lose again.

    Then I said the only thing I’ve seen work is the Gospel and I am not talking about a theological or devotional application of the Gospel. I’m talking about a sociological application of the ideas of the the value of broken individuals and redemption. Those ideas work to change people.

    During the first criminal justice reform bill process a few years ago I was one of the 400 contributing stakeholders . I didn’t contribute much at all but did ask the governors office how radical are they willing to be to reform the system? In other parts of the world I’ve seen prisons empty out because of the sociological application of the Gospel. We ought to try it here.

    If you read up on restorative justice there is much concern for the victim. As is they are out of the loop. Those who participate in restorative justice as victims report closure and healing in forgiveness.

      1. Mr. Hickey had lied before in this forum, lauded his visits to the state pen, belittled other commenters, claimed that those who disagreed with him were without Christ in their hearts, claimed to know what Christ said when Christ was silent, dismissed another commenter’s views of what Christ did, and on and on.

        He’s evolved beyond hubris into self-deification. He needs help, not accommodation.

    1. “If you read up on restorative justice there is much concern for the victim”

      As with most crime, the victim is SOCIETY not just those suffering from injuries or property loss.

      Society speaks through its laws.

    2. “As is we send them back out madder and harder than they were before and we all lose again.”

      Aren’t you confusing the cause of such hardening and anger?

      In other words, maybe incarceration only removes the process of a criminal’s deepening depravity from the public’s view? A depravity that would have grown even WORSE outside incarceration?

      Many (Most?) criminals are engaged in such behaviors because they WANT TO BE ENGAGED IN SUCH BEHAVIOR. Incarceration was just an inconvenient vacation from that lifestyle, and when given the chance, criminals return to their criminal activities with a vengeance.

      You WRONGLY assume that the purpose of incarceration is or should be rehabilitation, or a change in thinking, or a change in educational status, or a change in the soul.

      It’s not.

      It cannot be (for most).

      You cannot change the science.

    3. “If we want to restore people to the place of good citizenship”

      No, what you’re advocating is MAKING people good citizens with your magic powders or magic books.

      There’s NOTHING (like “good citizenship”) to “restore” for most incarcerated folks! For the most part, they were not, and never will be “good citizens”.

      And for those that were good citizens prior to incarceration, they will exit jail with a renewed commitment to being good citizens WITHOUT any program or reconciliation commission to lead them to the water!

  5. If someone had paid the price let them try to start over. But more importantly what was the actual issue of punishment? (it does depend on the crime). I cannot express this enough…it starts in Kindergarten. Where is our social skills classes and uniforms(this could be tee shirts and proper jeans) in all public school grades? Why are we not looking at a higher standard for all children and adults-this is a cost effective that will produce results in just behavior management in all grades and economic status-no discrimination-this is just a fundimental focus “preventative care” of you will. Grades mean nothing if you cannot function in society-being isolated from society can bring more issues on. Uniforms are in many professions: military has uniforms, any sport has uniforms,medical field, manufactoring plants have requirements for dress codes, restaurant employees have codes. Instead of trying to arrest people and put them in an orange uniforms at any jail or state facility, you need to start from the start….not when it is too late.

  6. Sorry, you are still wrong PP. I was a victims rights advocate as a police officer and police chief and continue to be an advocate in the legislature. I have sponsored and supported numerous victims rights issues in the legislature. And, by the way, how do you think many victims get the restitution they deserve? From a criminal with a job.

    1. Senator –

      My apologies, but you’ll have to help me here. I found one in 2009 (HB 1122), and then it gets kind of fuzzy from there regarding these “numerous victims rights issues in the legislature” you’re citing as having sponsored.

      Overall, South Dakota’s treatment of crime victims hasn’t changed much since I’ve started tracking it, and it’s as awful now as it has been for the last decade.

      And if you’re asking me “How many victims get the restitution they deserve?” I can tell you from experience and anecdote that whether the perpetrators have a job or not, almost none. Any system of holding criminals responsible to make full restitution is almost non-existent in South Dakota.

      1. if you don’t establish a path and incentive to meeting social obligations of having a job and financial obligations of paying their debts, how does the situation ever improve at all for the criminal or the victim? the only answer i see is to establish prison-labor industries and full work weeks … “pay” the prisoner/worker what the job is worth and make sure all the money goes to the victims and that a good work record can translate into post-prison employment opportunities. i can’t see how to make this work without riling up the private sector, or having the corruption of a public/private partnership run it ultimately. but it’s something like this or we can just warehouse people and have them return over and over.

  7. Pat,
    There is a reason these people are our elected representatives of all people not just some, half, or the select few. This is also why I am very glad your not in the legislature or anywhere near government.

  8. I think Pat and Tieszen/Hickey are actually seeing the same thing from a different angle and actually saying the same thing. Unfortunately, they each think different things need to come first (restitution vs. restoration of place in society) when in my mind they go together and compliment each other.

    Ignore a few of Steve’s logic leaps, hyperbole (empty prisons out? Really?), and use of a term which qualifies Justice and investigate the rationale of Steve’s assertion to apply Gospel values to the issue for I believe there is wisdom there.

    Ask yourself the following which I think gets to the heart of the issue: does our current system serve any efficacious purpose except the temporary protection of society during the time of incarceration? Does it make it possible that too many releases from prison are the same as an act of endangering society? Do we self-satisfy ourself with regard to victims by saying we incarcerated the perp and think we have done all we should?

    We don’t have too many people in prison because we have too tough of laws. We have to many people in prison because we have too many people who commit crimes.

    While a comprehensive reduction in crime requires a change in many places of our society, it seems to me the low hanging fruit is to at least use the time of incarceration to effect change in one person at a time and then provide opportunity for release into an environment/opportunity for the work in prison to fully realize fundamental change in the prison parolee.

    At minimum (which has significant impact as repeat criminals perpetrate significant amounts of crime), we reduce the incidence of prison releases being an act of endangerment to society.

  9. PP, Tiezen and Hickey are NOT on the same page for once. PP has identified a very serious issue for vicitims and Tiezen and Hickey are only interested in coddling criminals–just like our Governor. I guess sometimes it takes real life, personal experience to come to the conservative point of view. Living in a fantasy world of appointing your son in law to the most important position in the government and eight years of no-bid contracts from the state when you are Lt. Governor does not give the same real life, personal experiences that leads to a conservative point of view, I guess.

    1. Today I learned that being pragmatic about attempts to reduce recidivism is coddling criminals. Why do you hate nuance?

      1. “Why do you hate nuance”

        Or could it be that what Hickey is advocating is neither pragmatic, realistic, potentially effective, or just.

        Why do YOU hate nuance?

        1. It isn’t even potentially effective? Do you have any evidence whatsoever to support that claim?

  10. i think law enforcement is very interested in the question of addressing the roots of criminal behavior and interrupting that dynamic to change the individual and reduce recidivism. now, i recall that there was some kind of unique social justice initiative in the state a few years ago, which involved a special effort to bring criminal and victims together as part of a special ‘healing process’ or something like that. does tieszen’s program eliminate the other programs which are aimed at helping victims of crime? if so then that’s wrong. but to jump on the guy just because as one of the state’s top cops he wants to address recidivism and social progress for those who have served their sentences is reactionary at best.

  11. Do we have too many people in prisons?

    Do we spend too much on incarcerating people?

    Are too many people released from prison likely to be returned to prison after committing more crime?

    If you answer yes to any of these questions, the “pragmatic” response is to discuss and entertain ideas which might change your answer above.

    If you answer no, that’s ok. We are going to spend our time and effort trying to address these issue if for no other reason every person is a beloved child of God, both the perpetrators of crime and their victims. If we find solutions that reduce crime, reduce prison costs, reduce recidivism and reduce your taxes, you don’t need to thank us. We didn’t do it for you. We did it for God’s children.

    1. It seems like you are agreeing with me, but the quotation marks around pragmatic are throwing me off.

    2. “If we find solutions that reduce crime, reduce prison costs, reduce recidivism and reduce your taxes, you don’t need to thank us.”

      If anyone believes that Hickey can do any of those things with his talk and his “ideas”, well, good luck chasing that rabbit down the bottomless hole.

      Look, the subject of incarceration/rehab.recidivism has been studied ENDLESSLY and we’re no where closer to any beneficial resolution. In fact, the more we seem to study it and try to implement “reforms”, the more INEFFECTIVE it becomes. So, while I’m all for trying something different, Hickey has a history of making things worse, not better.

      “no other reason every person is a beloved child of God”

      As a religious person I too recognize how God works. And, I also recognize how people are when they reject God, and what they become when they reject Him. I don’t think Hickey understands, knows, or appreciates the role of evil as he types with his Pollyanna glasses.

      Lastly, I cannot believe a just God does not punish evil; we should emulate that, right?

  12. As for granting second chances and enlightened employment practices, perhaps the Sioux Falls Storm might offer some guidance. They have developed an excellent record in this regard, often retaining employees even after they run afoul of the law while under the employ of the organization.

    Even though just about any warm body could fill most of the jobs which they have available, the Storm demonstrate a loyalty truly unique among employers in SD.

    1. Heck, get the Bill & Hillary Clinton Foundation to fund the rehabilitation of sexual perverts and sexual predators.

      I’m sure that they have some ideas on how to do it, and which media outlets will cooperate.

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