State's chief justice pitches mental health recommendations

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The state Supreme Court's chief justice has pitched to lawmakers recommendations meant to improve public safety and the treatment of mentally ill people in the criminal justice system.

Chief Justice David Gilbertson gave his State of the Judiciary speech Wednesday to the Legislature.

He convened a task force after the Argus Leader newspaper reported that a backlog of mental competency evaluations of criminal suspects is taxing county budgets and raising concerns about the rights of defendants.

State lawmakers are set to consider proposals from the group including expanding the pool of people who can perform the evaluations and increasing mental illness training.

Gilbertson says the plan will help people and save taxpayers' money. Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Tuesday that he will support the group's recommendations.

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