Pennington County has made a significant investment in jail diversion, community outreach and engagement, and expanding cite and release and community-based alternatives to incarceration. Notable initiatives include: rolling out the Young Adult Diversion Program (YADP) to divert eligible defendants aged 18 to 25 from the justice system; changing identification policies to increase eligibility for community-based diversion programs; and implementing a community advisory collaborative and cultural awareness training for law enforcement officers.
To build on past efforts, Pennington County was awarded $1.75 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge in 2017 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 and substance abuse issues.
To continue reducing the jail population safely, the county plans to implement four new strategies aimed at addressing racial and ethnic disparities, reducing system inefficiencies, and expanding non-jail options for lower-risk offenders. This will include conducting tribal outreach on reservations to implement several initiatives with the goal of reducing the overrepresentation of Native Americans in the Pennington County jail system.