Pennington County, SD

Summary

Pennington County has made a significant investment in programming and process in order to safely reduce the jail population and reduce the disparities in the justice system as a whole. Pennington County has increased alternatives to incarceration, expanded the diversion programming, implemented case processing changes to reduce delays, and increased community collaboration and engagement to ensure the strategies meet the needs of the community as a whole.

Notable initiatives include: launching a multi-faceted warrant resolution effort to include a hotline, a review of aged warrants, and providing case management to individuals with an active warrant; introducing a Jail Review Team to assist with case resolution; and opening the Care Campus to provide services to the community’s most vulnerable population and to create an alternative to incarceration for those in the most need of services.

To build on past efforts, Pennington County was awarded $1.2 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge in 2020 to implement strategies that address the main drivers of the local jail population, including any practices that take a particularly heavy toll on people of color, low-income communities, and people with mental health issues or who struggle with substance use.

To continue reducing the jail population safely, the county plans to continue those initiatives that have been most effective, revise those that may not be at peak performance, and launch new initiatives based on the knowledge and data gathered thus far. These initiatives will focus on three main areas: tribal and community outreach and engagement; case processing, and alternatives to incarceration. All strategies will focus on safely reducing the jail population and reducing the racial and ethnic disparities, reducing system inefficiencies, and expanding non-jail options for lower-risk justiceinvolved individuals within Pennington County.

  • Native Americans are overrepresented in Pennington County jails. Though Native Americans make up between 10-20% of the county’s population, more than 50% of the daily jail population in Pennington County is Native American.
  • Pennington County experienced a methamphetamine epidemic, causing felony drug arrests to increase by 200 percent between November 2015 and April 2019.
  • Pretrial release is a significant driver of the jail population. The jail pretrial population alone made up roughly 88 percent of the total jail population in September 2019.
  • Pretrial release is a significant driver of the jail population. The jail pretrial population alone made up roughly 88% of the total jail population in September 2019.
  • With $1.2 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge, Pennington County will implement forward-looking, smart solutions, to address the overuse of jails in the county and further reduce the local jail population by 22% over the next two years.
  • To continue reducing the jail population safely, the county plans to implement new strategies aimed at addressing racial and ethnic disparities, reducing system inefficiencies, and expanding non-jail options for lower-risk justice involved individuals.
  • The county will conduct tribal outreach and engagement on reservations and within the Pennington County community to implement several initiatives with the goal of reducing the overrepresentation of Native Americans in the Pennington County jail system and improving relationships.
  • Strategies range from increasing alternatives to incarceration to increasing the efficiency of case processing, and are enthusiastically embraced across public safety partners. These policy-driven innovations will reduce jail bed usage while ensuring the county advances its commitment to only holding in custody those who pose a safety risk to the community while ensuring access to critically needed services for all.
  • Over the next two years the county will:

1) increase its focus on objective assessment and treatment;

2) maintain and increase alternatives to incarceration;

3) develop and implement measures to reduce racial and ethnic disparities; and

4) expand efficiencies in how cases are processed through the criminal justice system.

Supported with $1.2 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge, Pennington County will implement forward-looking, smart solutions, to further reduce the local jail population by 22% over the next two years.

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