Alternative to putting juveniles in jail - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Alternative to putting juveniles in jail

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A new report out Wednesday says South Dakota has the highest rate of juveniles in lock up.

More than two-and-a-half times the national average.

But, more alternative services are being used to help kids.

"I would have never have thought within my wildest dream that I could ever have accomplished the goals that I have. Now that I look back, I don't even believe I was that person either." said Rowdy Harvey.

18-year-old, Rowdy Harvey has spent time in a juvenile detention center.

But now, he's finding success in an alternative program.

"JDC diminished my opportunities. This has sparked a flame inside me that I'm willing to thrive on for the rest of my life." Harvey said.

He added the relationships with the mentors at McCrossan Boys Ranch is what makes the biggest difference.

Executive Director, Brian Roegiers, has worked there for 35 years.

"The whole initiative is to keep kids out of secure detention and it's more normal it improves their overall outlook in life." said Roegiers.

When kids are jailed, there's a stigma, and Roegiers said that label can be the most damaging part.

"I think the state of South Dakota is probably a little behind in developing alternative services but it's high on everyone's priority list right now." He said.

Roegiers explained when kids are saved, it makes everything worthwhile.

"When you feel like you've saved even one, you feel like you've done something well."

Harvey added, "This place has made me stronger. Not just for me but it's helped me with my father and my mother and my sisters and my brother. It's drawn out relationships that I thought were dead and gone."

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