In four years, South Dakota has transformed its juvenile justice system resulting in a dramatic reduction of youth commitments to custody. The state also expanded community-based services and diversion programs to improve outcomes for young people.

In 2014, South Dakota’s juvenile justice system was facing a crisis. The state had the second-highest juvenile commitment rate in the country. Despite the hefty investment, the system was providing a poor return – nearly half of all youth released from facilities returned to custody within three years.

State leaders embraced a plan to improve outcomes for youth in the juvenile justice system while also protecting public safety. The Legislature passed the Juvenile Justice Public Safety Improvement Act (JJPSIA), which the governor signed into law in March 2015. South Dakota sought support from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to implement the new law. CJI was selected as the technical assistance provider.

Early results point to a stronger system that provides better outcomes for youth, their
families, their communities, and taxpayers – all without sacrificing public safety.

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