The Public Safety Improvement Act Oversight Council has released its annual report on progress made under Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s criminal justice reforms. The Governor announced the release of the report at his legislative press conference Feb. 16 and noted the passage of Senate Bill 117 by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“This report demonstrates the successes we are seeing from the 2013 criminal justice reforms,” Gov. Daugaard said. “We have shifted the focus on offenders who pose a threat to the public and we are allowing nonviolent offenders to receive treatment and remain in their communities where they can work to support themselves and their families.”
According to the report, South Dakota is saving money thanks to the reforms. The report indicates there are 278 fewer inmates within the state prison system today than there would have been without the Public Safety Improvement Act. The average cost for incarceration is almost $60 a day and $22,000 per year. Additionally, without the law, state officials say a new women’s prison would have been needed last year at the cost of $36 million.
The state’s investment in programs to help offenders who have drug and alcohol problems is also noted in the report. The number of individuals served by Drug or DUI Court has nearly tripled since the passage of the reforms. So far, 88 percent of those who have completed substance abuse treatment have not recidivated within a year of their release.
The bill passed by Senate Judiciary on Feb. 16 makes adjustments to the Public Safety Improvement Act to address the uptick in meth-related arrests. SB 117 incentivizes the successful completion of treatment, increases training for prosecutors and focuses supervision resources on high risk offenders.
“We knew it was likely that we would need to make some adjustments to the comprehensive reforms passed in 2013,” Gov. Daugaard said. “At the time, we did not foresee the increase in meth trafficking. The proposals I brought forward this year will ameliorate the problem by stopping meth from coming into our state, helping those who are addicted, and convincing citizens to stay away from meth.”