- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota has seen a significant drop in juvenile arrests for the second consecutive year, according to crime data released this week by the state attorney general’s office.

Authorities arrested 12.5 percent fewer juveniles in 2014, which Attorney General Marty Jackley attributes to alternative juvenile detention services and improved support systems. That decrease comes after a 15 percent decline in 2013.

Officials in the state’s two most populous counties told the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/1JgEQ5G ) that in recent years they’ve been working on ways to house juvenile offenders in places other than the county correctional facilities, hoping to reduce the number of reoffenders.

Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom said over the past few years they’ve placed a greater emphasis on diverting kids away from regional juvenile detention centers to keep them away from more hardened criminals.

“If a kid is picked up and put in juvenile detention centers with other hardcore kids, they are more likely to end up coming back into the system,” he said.

In Minnehaha County, Sheriff Mike Milstead said they’ve been making changes in dealing with juveniles. Looking for alternative detention services rather than locking them up at the Juvenile Detention Center has been one of them.

“I don’t think we have less crimes being committed,” said Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan. “I think at different decision points people are using their discretion appropriately and find alternatives to having juveniles brought formally into the criminal justice system.”

The reduced arrest statistics come as South Dakota lawmakers have moved to implement policies to keep more non-violent juvenile offenders out of jail.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard this year signed a proposal into law that aims to shift young offenders toward community-based services. The measure is expected to further reduce the number of kids in state-funded facilities by 2020.


Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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