SIOUX FALLS, SD (Dakota News Now) – The South Dakota Legislature’s Juvenile Justice Study Committee has outlined a path to a more effective juvenile justice system in the state. However, officials say there is still more work to be done.
According to WNAX News, one resolution would commit $20 million to fund scholarships for people entering the mental health field. The committee has met several times in the meantime, working on several recommendations to improve responses to the problems of minors.
“As far as I’m concerned, what we’re talking about right now, this resolution could shake the ground in terms of getting people the help they need in this state,” said Sen. VJ Smith of Brookings. “You know, not a lot of things that we do as a legislature are completely land-based, meaning this is wall-to-wall taking care of people, people you’ll never meet, you’ll never have. to know And it doesn’t matter if it’s a kid from Bison or a kid from Mobridge or whatever … kids can get help.”
Sen. Erin Tobin of Winner says the $20 million price tag for this reform is cheaper than the alternatives.
“And if you’re talking about the cost, and if you look at the number, it gives you heartburn. Representative Rehfeldt talked about a child where a year in the system could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Tobin said. “We heard testimony at our committee about two mothers whose children had mental health issues, but they were ordered and locked up, and that diagnosis it’s wrong, wrong place, wrong treatment and we’re taking that money and throwing it out the window. “.
Rep. Caleb Finck of Tripp, chairman of the committee, praised the work done, saying, “I’m absolutely proud of this committee and the work you all did this summer, really digging in, and I wish you the best of luck in the upcoming legislative session. You still have a lot of work to do.”
Committee members will sponsor individual bills in the 2023 legislative session.
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