Posted: Thursday, 19 July 2012 7:57AM
State leaders announce criminal justice study
State leaders from all three branches of government announced the creation of a workgroup to study possible ways to reform the criminal justice system as the prison population in South Dakota continues to increase.
Governor Dennis Daugaard announced the workgroup during a news conference Wednesday with Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson, Senate Majority Leader Russell Olson of Wentworth, and House Speaker Pro Tempore Brian Gosch at the State Capitol in Pierre.
The workgroup will study existing policies and see if there are any reforms, like community treatment programs, that could ease the amount spent on Corrections each year while maintaining public safety. While their crime rates are similar, South Dakota’s incarceration rate is higher than that of neighboring states and is about double the rates of North Dakota and Minnesota. Daugaard said that’s one thing the group will look at.
The South Dakota prison population has grown by more than 500 percent since 1980, from about 600 inmates then to more than 3,600 today. If the state does not contain that growth, it is estimated that the prison population will exceed 4,500 inmates by 2022, at a cost of more than $224 million to taxpayers.
The Corrections budget is currently more than 100-million dollars a year.
The work group will be assisted by the Pew Center on the States, and consists of representatives from all three branches of state government, local government, and other criminal justice stakeholder groups.