Pennington County seeing results from Safety and Justice Challenge

Four months after receiving most recent MacArthur Foundation grants, jail population down significantly

PENNINGTON COUNTY, S.D. — Program and system changes at the Pennington County Jail are working, reducing the jail’s population by diverting people into other programs and services.

The changes are made possible, thanks in large part to the county’s participation in the John D. and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, which provided grant money.

Liz Hassett, Grant Mgr., MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge, said “Since September of 2018, when the care campus opened, we’ve seen a great reduction with our jail population. Specifically for our low level, non violent misdemeanor crimes. There’s been a 74% reduction in the jail population for that group of individuals.”

Along with help from the Care Campus, there is also a warrant resolution efforts, and jail population review team. Through the programs, 499 cases were reviews and 122 individuals were approved for release. Those 122 releases accounted for over 2 thousand saved jail bed days, and around sixteen percent of true system diversions are law enforcement referrals to the care campus.

“You know if you look at our numbers from February to May, we’ve reduced our jail population by 39.4%.” said Hassett.

That is significant as local law enforcement exceeded their expectations of a 22% reduction by 2021.

Native Americans and other minorities in Pennington County are vastly underrepresented at decision-making levels concerning justice reform.

Through the grant, Pennington County has been able to build and solidify relationships with three neighboring reservation and local communities.

“So that includes, things like trainings, we have the national compadres network in here. Training justice system entities and community members.” said Hassett “We’ve been able to respond, and will continue to respond to anything that comes forward with regard to the justice system with a united front.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News