SD Families First

This is a new lobbying organization one of my friends is helping out with. Check them out!

Here is a letter to the editor, explaining the group‘s mission.

Sheriff Mike Milstead recently announced the Department of Justice will visit our county jail in December to review the growing inmate population. Meanwhile, a work group has completed a review of our state’s prison population at the governor’s request — launching a discussion around many needed reforms.

The magnitude of this issue is truly alarming. I am very concerned about the over-incarceration crisis because we arrest twice as many people as our neighboring states, despite having a similar crime rate. The arrest rate has increased by 400 percent for women since the early ’80s, about the same time we embraced the “war on drugs” and started locking up a record numbers of nonviolent drug users. Although well-intended, this approach actually fuels the cycle of crime, poverty and addiction and makes the public less safe.

The clear connection between our punitive drug laws and skyrocketing arrest rates should prompt a serious discussion about how we handle drugs. I urge our community leaders to consider decriminalization and treating problematic drug use as a health care issue for the family and community, not the police and courts.


#1 Pathloss on 12.03.12 at 4:15 pm

400% increase for women is alarming. Focusing on why seems imperative. Think of the children who grow up without a father then think of the children who grow up without a mother or father. I’ve always felt penalties for marajuana are strict. It’s nearly legal in many states but a small amount here will get you some serious time.

#2 John on 12.03.12 at 7:38 pm

It is absolutely insane how SD treats minor substance possessors. There is no scientific bases for it. The scientific bases that does exist reads that decriminalizing minor possession drives DOWN drug related crimes and substance additions. But one may never get the anti-science right wing-nuts to acknowledge, or accept the science.

One problem in SD is the prison-prosecutor-industrial complex runs the place. Prisons – build it and they will come. The committee looking into solutions is also prosecutor-heavy — folks who know little to nothing about science.

There is a timeless wisdom in that the first territorial judge serving Deadwood would not jail opium addicts unless their behavior was anti-social (battery, etc.).

#3 Detroit Lewis on 12.04.12 at 10:03 am

That’s why the property tax increase by the Minnehaha County Commission a few months back pissed me off so much. Instead finding solutions to bring down prosecution costs they just go looking for more money.

You can blame Janklow for creating the Prison Industrial Complex for us.