State Fact Sheet

Public Safety in South Dakota

South Dakota passed comprehensive juvenile justice reform legislation in 2015 based on policy recommendations from the bipartisan, interbranch Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative Work Group. The work group released its recommendations last November with technical assistance from Pew. Senate Bill 73 passed both chambers of the Legislature by strong majorities, and Governor Dennis Daugaard signed it into law on March 12. The reforms focus residential facilities on youth who pose a public safety risk and reinvest the savings into evidence-based community intervention programs. The bill is expected to reduce the number of youth in residential placements by more than 50 percent and cut costs by more than $32 million within five years.

We can continue to place juveniles in expensive state-funded facilities that, for many, are less effective at reducing delinquency, or we can invest in proven interventions and treatment programs that keep our youth close to home and connected to their communities.Governor Dennis Daugaard

The legislation follows a successful reform of South Dakota’s adult criminal justice system in 2013. Facing continued growth of its prison system, South Dakota enacted adult sentencing and corrections policies recommended by the bipartisan, interbranch Criminal Justice Initiative Work Group. Those reforms focus prison space on violent and career criminals, improve the parole and probation system and victim services, and reduce recidivism by investing in treatment for substance abusers, among other interventions. The law was expected to save taxpayers $224 million over 10 years while improving public safety.