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.