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Pennington County Commissioners Joke About Shooting Convicts

At an August 2 budget work session, Commissioners Ron Buskerud and Mark DiSanto “joked” and laughed about wishing we could just take criminals out back of the courthouse after their trials and shoot them. Forward to 59:10 in the official Pennington County video:

Commissioner Buskerud has had the decency to apologize for his thoughtless and inappropriate remarks; Commissioner DiSanto, husband of Rep. Lynne DiSanto, has not offered any public apology.

But the key policy point amidst this public honyockerism is that Buskerud and DiSanto were responding to concerns about the cost of capital punishment cases:

In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, Buskerud said the statement was made out of frustration, given the exorbitant cost of death penalty cases that Pennington County residents now have to shoulder.

“It’s costing the taxpayers another two to three million dollars,” he said. “The state’s attorney needs more money, the public defender needs more money, the courts need more money. That’s the context in which it was said” [Tiffany Tan, “Buskerud Regrets ‘Stupid’ Comment that People Facing Death Penalty Should Be Shot,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.08.17].

The ACLU has your relief, Commissioner Buskerud. The solution to such exorbitant costs is not to start shooting people without full due process. It’s to get rid of the death penalty:

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota said that if county commissioners believed the death penalty is “too much of a financial burden,” they could advocate for its elimination.

“I would hope that in the future, elected officials would engage in thoughtful, nuanced analysis when discussing the execution of a human being, which is the most serious and irreversible exercise of governmental power that exists,” said Libby Skarin, policy director of the South Dakota ACLU [Tan, 2017.08.17].

If you’re really concerned about your county budget, shooting your mouth off won’t solve your problems. Neither will shooting people.


  1. buckobear 2017-08-18 13:09

    Funny, they didn’t mention all the money that’s been wasted on Ferebee, eh ?

  2. Porter Lansing 2017-08-18 13:43

    I see what you did there. “shooting off your mouth” … pure genius

  3. Roger Cornelius 2017-08-18 16:05

    It is interesting to see how these capitalist are whining about how much it costs to kill a man while these same self-righteous Christians completely igonore the Ten Commandments, you know the one that says “Thou Shall Not Kill”. There is not an * after that Commandment that excuses any homicides.

  4. leslie 2017-08-18 22:43

    we have confused republicans in power in the Black Hills. many, many confused republicans.

    If Buskerud, a life time prosecutor/commissioner UNDERSTOOD alcoholism, the medical condition, effecting his constituents, there would not be a need for block after block of Rapid City courtrooms, jails and new county administration buildings. Law enforcing the golden goose, Sturgis’ rally is probably kind of expensive too. Real criminal justice reform is necessary, educating republican prosecutors, judges and law enforcement. “Tough on crime” is ignorance. Try “smart”.

    At the PenDem fair booth tonight, an aged well known rancher expressed that he voted for Obama, but now with Trump in office, it is the Dem’s fault we are not giving him a chance to succeed. Since the Dems haven’t been fair, he’ll never vote Dem again. I don’t get Republican’s inability to reason and avoid swallowing Republican propaganda. Sen Bob Corker gets it. But only on Fox News and KOTA does the Republican voter place trust.

    Vote Billy Sutton and Tim Bjorkman. And blister Republicans in SD for voting for Trump, Thune, Noem and Rounds.

  5. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr. 2017-08-19 14:31

    And to think that the “Shrine of Democracy,” and all that it is suppose to represent, is only a few miles from these comments from government leaders…. How said…. How said…..But then again, back in the mid 1980s, Janklow made some kind of sad comment too about inmates, the State Pen, and a possible fire on its premise and his true thoughts about it, a course there is a lot of irony with that story, isn’t there?

  6. leslie 2017-08-20 19:02

    likely all folks in power eventually turn callous to the less advantaged. Steak and drink on patios above Indian Country make it pretty easy to forget reality. But conservatives may have a bigger ingrained problem. Many military folks adopt conservative politics so it is a pleasure to hear from clear thinking vets on this blog.

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