Federal ruling may set some inmates free in South Dakota - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Federal ruling may set some inmates free in South Dakota

Posted: Updated:
It's not quite a "get out of jail free card" but some South Dakota inmates may soon be able to get out of prison early.

A recent federal ruling which will reduce sentences for some drug offenders.

Like many Americans, the federal government is doing some belt-tightening, and releasing some prisoners will help save money.

And while the reason for these changes comes down to dollars and cents, the hope and the goal, is to rehabilitate rather than incarcerate.

Some inmates may soon get a break on their prison sentence.

Drug policy advocate Emmett Reistroffer said "I think this is an incredible step in the right direction, however we need to be serious about the robust removal of as many non-violent drug offenders from behind bars as possible."

Letting some inmates out early is one way the federal government recognizes it can cut costs.

U.S. District Attorney Brendan Johnson said "because of budget constraints, we have to reduce that footprint, and we need to spend less.  We still need to do it in a way which preserves public safety and keeps our community safe and so this is really a balancing act of trying to accomplish those things."

Reistroffer hopes the federal ruling to reduce prison sentences for some drug offenders will focus more on rehabilitation instead of incarceration.

"Sadly, its taken us many years to get this far, but I'm happy that we're getting to a point where we can look at addiction in a more serious light and treat the addiction rather than just punish the individual," Reistroffer said.

"My job, along with federal probation, along with federal courts is to try to make that transition back into the community as smooth as possible for these folks that are going to be going out so they don't re-offend," Johnson said.

An early release may give some inmates a new lease on life.

"To start their lives over again, to get back to work, and to get back to their families and that's what this is about. We're just costing the taxpayers everyday that we lock up non-violent drug offenders. And we're not doing anything to treat their addiction," Reistroffer said.

Johnson tells KSFY News no prisoners will be let out before November 2015.  He expects that to be a small number of inmates released during the first year.

Whether inmates can apply for early release or will be pre-selected is to be deter minded.

The details of early release are still being worked on but Johnson said prisoners who have less than three years left on their sentence are the ones who will most likely benefit from the program.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KSFY. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service or our EEO Report.