Woman criticizes Noem for releasing her father’s killer

December 29, 2022

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A woman is criticizing Gov. Kristi Noem’s decision to release her father’s killer from prison.

Noem announced Monday that she had commuted seven prisoners’ sentences to parole, saying they had earned a second chance and present a low risk of recidivism.

One of the prisoners is Connie Hirsch. In 2012, Hirsch was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of her husband, Jerold Hirsch, in 2010. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Jarold Hirsch’s daughter, Sandra Lopez, says she learned of Noem’s decision on Christmas Day through a victim advocate. No one consulted her, she said. If someone had, she would have asked why Connie Hirsch couldn’t have sat in prison until her parole date in 2026.

“I feel like I’m victimized all over again by Noem doing this,” Lopez said. “I don’t got a dad. I don’t get to see my dad. I got to go visit my dad at a grave. My kids got to go visit their grandpa at a grave. Her kids would’ve at least got to visit her behind bars. I mean, at least she was still alive.”

Two of the other prisoners who saw their sentences commuted — Tammy Kvasnicka and Whitney Renae Turney — also were sentenced for first-degree manslaughter. The other four were doing time for drug offenses.