AG Jackley concerned about number of walkaway inmates - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

AG Jackley concerned about number of walkaway inmates

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 "We have a continuing problem and hopefully we're working on improving how we address the parolee and probationary issues of this nature." South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley had a frank discussion with us about the problem of inmates walking away from state prisons.

 It happened again Monday night. An inmate, Travis Thorngren, walked away from the South Dakota State Penitentiary's Jameson Annex.
 He is serving time for a grand theft conviction out of Lincoln County.

 This is not an isolated incident.
 A check of our records show at least five inmates have been able to walk away from state prisons and county jails in just the last 11 weeks.
 We sat down this afternoon with Attorney General Marty Jackley to ask him...what is going on?

 How is it that someone who is under lock and key watch can walk away from a state prison in the first place?
 There is no denying that it is happening and it seems like it's happening a lot. "There is a concern. we see it fairly often in South Dakota and we often times see criminal charges of escape...very serious felony charges...tied to that."

 South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley sat down with me in his Sioux Falls office and openly acknowledges it is a troubling problem.
 But Jackley says what we all need to keep in mind is that when walkaways happen, it is part of a specific process. "Certainly they're concerning but when you look at the big picture these individuals...there's a risk tied to them. Part of the process is to narrow down that risk."

 In other words, part of spending time in prison means rehabilitating those who can be rehabilitated so they can be returned to society. Part of that rehab means testing prisoners to see if they will do the right thing by giving them more freedom and privileges.
 Some prisoners do the right thing and obey the rules, others don't and those are the ones who walk away. "There is a process of putting somebody back into the public, back into the community and during that process there are certainly times that individuals don't follow the rules, that will break the rules and the hope is that they do it in such a way that it doesn't endanger the public."

 If you're saying to yourself it doesn't sound like a perfect process, you would be right and the Attorney General would agree with you.
 But to determine if an inmate can be trusted back in society...that trust has to be tested.
 And sometimes, inmates fail that test.

 Jackley tells me that criminal justice reforms placing a greater emphasis on drug and alcohol court may help curtail some of these problems of people walking away...by allowing them to seek treating while continuing their normal lives and keeping them out of jail if possible.

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