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SD: Fixing South Dakota’s offender registries


My name is Eli Lehrer and I’m here to testify on H.B. 1244. I am president of the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank headquartered in Washington.

I also serve as adviser to the Criminal Justice Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). My comments on this bill represent only my personal views and are not necessarily those of ALEC or of R Street. I have worked in association with the justice system for almost two decades and have written widely on corrections and policing issues for publications like National Review and The Weekly Standard. My resume includes full-time policy positions with the Heritage Foundation, where I worked closely with Reagan administration Attorney General Ed Meese; a job at the American Enterprise Institute; and a position as speechwriter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

I’m a very proud member of the vast right-wing conspiracy and a strong believer in being tough on crime and in cracking down on sexual predators.

Failed liberal policies gave us crime rates that were much too high. Conservative common sense about crime and punishment has been effective in reducing crime. As a father myself, I’m supportive of the underlying policy this bill deals with: the institution of registries for sex offenders who victimize our children. The preponderance of the research shows they are effective. We owe it to the police and to our children to make them even more effective.

However, making registries effective requires that they actually serve as a tool to track the worst sex offenders. Some sex offenders who have demonstrated exemplary compliance with the law are simply not the type of people that we have to worry about. They made a serious mistake, have paid a price and ought to be able to move on.

Allowing them a quicker path to getting on with their lives, as this bill does in its current form, is a worthy idea that this committee ought to be commended for considering. The tradition of mercy so central to our Judeo-Christian tradition is one reason to support this measure. But we also should remember that cleaning registries also advances the interests of justice.

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