Criminal justice reform brings opportunity for early probation - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Criminal justice reform brings opportunity for early probation release

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South Dakota now rewards people out on probation for their good behavior.

It's part of an effort to reduce the state's growing prison population.

KSFY News spoke with one woman who credits her probation with getting her life back on track.

Mallory Flanigan's job serves as a constant reminder that just a few years ago, her life was very different.

"I was looking at four years of prison time and part of my punishment was doing county time, I did it in work release, and then I did two years intense probation as a way to stay out of prison," Flanigan said.

And now, Mallory raises money for tall grass recovery center," Flanigan said.

"I've never gone to prison but from what people tell me is it's a lot harder to transition out, when you've gone and served time in prison," Flanigan said.

As part of South Dakota's criminal justice reform, people can earn a month off their probation for every 30 days of good behavior.

Minnehaha County chief court service officer Chad Clark said "I believe it will allow us to focus on the individuals who are higher risk and giving us more time to help them make the changes they need to be successful."

But for Mallory, staying out of prison while on probation didn't mean she was completely free to come and go as she pleased.

"I had to basically give my probation officer an itinerary of basically exactly where I was going to be for a week at a time, and I had to follow through on that," Flanigan said.

"Most of the time, when I meet with my clients initially, I tell them my goal is to get them to a point where I'll never have to see them again," Clark said.

Which is why Mallory credits probation with changing her life.

"It helped me be accountable, it helped me follow through on things and helped me be honest and those were things  I wasn't capable of doing," Flanigan said.

Criminal justice reform for people on parole went into affect last July.

The numbers are still coming in but so far, for the first five months of the program, there's been a drop of more than two hundred parolees.

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