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JRI Year: 2013



South Dakota’s prison population grew more than 500 percent from 1977 to 2013.1 The state’s incarceration rate in 2011 was the highest among its neighbors, with a corrections budget of more than $100 million.2 South Dakota’s Criminal Justice Initiative Work Group was appointed by state leadership to complete a comprehensive review of the state’s criminal justice data and develop options to reduce the prison population and corrections costs. With technical assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Crime and Justice Institute, the Work Group found that 81 percent of new prison admissions and 61 percent of the prison population were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses and 53 percent of people admitted to prison were convicted of drug- and alcohol-related crimes.3


The Work Group submitted a report to state leadership in November 2012 recommending significant justice policy reforms. The report was translated into Senate Bill (SB) 70, also known as the Public Safety Improvement Act, and was introduced by a bipartisan coalition. SB 70 sought to prioritize prison beds for people convicted of violent offenses.4 To strengthen supervision and accountability, SB 70 authorized earned discharge for people on probation and parole who follow supervision conditions; required the use of graduated sanctions; and allocated funding to the Department of Corrections, with the assistance of the Department of Tribal Relations, to create parole supervision pilot programs tailored to tribal communities to address absconding.5

The Act also provided funding for the Office of the Attorney General to create a statewide automated victim information and notification system.6 The South Dakota Legislature overwhelmingly passed SB 70, and then-Governor Dennis Daugaard signed it into law in February 2013. To achieve the goals of the bill, South Dakota implemented multiple policy and practice changes across several state agencies.


South Dakota’s focus on behavioral health treatment and strengthening community supervision led to tripling the capacity of problem-solving courts for drug-related and DUI offenses and implementing telehealth substance use treatment services for rural areas.7 Additionally, South Dakota introduced the Tribal Parole Pilot program, a collaborative effort with the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe, to improve parole outcomes for individuals returning to tribal communities, resulting in higher rates of successful parole completions.8

For more information, see Justice Reinvestment: South Dakota.

JRI-Driven Policies and Practices

  • Reclassify/redefine drug offenses
  • Reclassify/redefine property offenses
  • Establish/expand presumptive probation for some offenses
  • Establish/expand earned discharge (probation/parole)
  • Authorize/develop/modify graduated responses or matrices for violations
  • Require/improve risk-needs assessment
  • Require evidence-based practices
  • Reform/establish specialty courts or diversion programs
  • Improve behavioral health interventions
  • Improve restitution/victim notification
  • Require fiscal impact statements
  • Require data collection/performance measures
  • Establish/extend oversight council

1 South Dakota Criminal Justice Initiative, 2012, Final Report, South Dakota: Criminal Justice Initiative Work Group, retrieved May 19, 2023 from 116361.pdf (

2 Ibid., 2.

3 Ibid., 4.

4 Crime and Justice Institute, 2017, Justice Reinvestment: South Dakota, Boston, MA: Crime and Justice Institute, retrieved June 6, 2023 from

5 Ibid., 7.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

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