Pennington County, SD

Summary

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.

  • Native Americans are overrepresented in Pennington County jails. Though Native Americans make up roughly 10% of the county’s population, approximately 51% of the daily jail population in Pennington County is Native American.
  • Non-felony arrests represent 70% of arrests in Pennington County, and there is an over-reliance on incarceration for low-risk, non-violent offenders.
  • According to data collected by the JFA Institute, there were 7,035 bookings where the individual was considered a “high utilizer” of the jail, and these individuals stayed an average of two days.
  • Pretrial detention is a significant driver of the jail population. The jail pretrial population alone made up 56% of the total jail population in May 2016.
  •  Supported with $1.75 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 20-24% over the next two years.
  • 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.
  • The county will conduct tribal outreach on reservations to implement several initiatives with the goal of reducing the overrepresentation of Native Americans in the Pennington County jail system and improving relations between county government and the reservations.
  • Strategies range from pre-booking diversion to early release for non-violent offenders, 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 having the ‘right’ inmates in custody while ensuring access to critically needed services for all.
  • Over the next two years the county will employ:

    1. increased focus on risk assessment and treatment;
    2. new pretrial alternatives;
    3. measures to reduce racial and ethnic disparities; and
    4. greater efficiencies in the way the courts process cases.

Supported with $1.75 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge, Pennington County will implement forward-looking, smart solutions, to further reduce the local jail population by 20-24% over the next two years.

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