Lawmakers in Pierre focusing on criminal justice reform - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Lawmakers in Pierre focusing on criminal justice reform

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 Keeping criminals out of jail is a major goal for state lawmakers and law enforcement.

 They're not going soft on crime but instead lawmakers are looking for a better way to handle non-violent offenders.

 State lawmakers say funding South Dakota's criminal justice reform is an investment in our state's future.

 "There are going to be some initial costs up front but generally speaking, I'm convinced this will help the state save money." State Representative Jim Bolin says South Dakota's criminal justice reform initiative focuses on rehabilitation instead of incarceration. "it's clearly a different approach. I believe it's a better and more cost effective way of dealing non-violent offenders. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of the people in our penitentiaries are non-violent offenders."

 And stopping the revolving door of repeat offenders and treating their addictions is the goal of the state's criminal justice reform initiative. We were able to get Attorney General Marty Jackley's thoughts. "Hold people accountable but then get them back to their families and save the taxpayer money. Then, reserve the expensive part of the criminal justice system for those really bad actors, for the murderers, the violent criminals that we need to focus on."

 And with a proposed start-up cost of more than four million -- Senator Deb Peters believes it's necessary to find a more efficient way of spending taxpayer dollars. "We're seeing the corrections budget increase at an alarming rate. It's growing faster than any other state in our surrounding area. What we're trying to do is try to slow down the growth of our corrections system."

 With a long term goal of saving taxpayer money and increasing public safety, criminal justice reform could provide a win-win situation for the state.

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