State Fact Sheet

Public Safety in South Dakota

After making policy changes to its adult criminal justice system in 2013, South Dakota is examining ways to reform its juvenile justice system. Governor Dennis Daugaard this year convened the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative Work Group to assess the state’s juvenile justice system.  Its goals include improving public safety by expanding proven community-based interventions for youth and families, effectively holding offenders accountable, and reducing juvenile justice costs by investing in proven community-based practices and reserving residential facilities for serious offenders. In 2011, South Dakota ranked second in the country for the number of youth committed to juvenile facilities. The cost of housing a juvenile is nearly twice the cost of housing a maximum security inmate in an adult facility.

We're trying to ask, 'Is there something different we should be doing with this child but we aren't?' We may find that we've made the right decision on every commitment, but we're going to take a hard look at what we're doing.Jim Seward, general counsel to the governor

Facing continued growth of its prison system, South Dakota in 2013 enacted comprehensive adult sentencing and corrections reforms that were recommended by the bipartisan, interbranch Criminal Justice Initiative Work Group. The 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 new law is expected to save taxpayers $224 million over the next 10 years while improving public safety.

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Christina Zurla

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