OPINION: Justice system overhaul good example of bipartisanshipHow refreshing to see Gov. Dennis Daugaard, his Republican colleagues and the Democrats all working together to get things done for South Dakota.
By: Editorial board, Pierre Capitol Journal
How refreshing to see Gov. Dennis Daugaard, his Republican colleagues and the Democrats all working together to get things done for South Dakota. They seem to have found an issue on which there is common ground — the need to reform our justice system and save money by treating more nonviolent offenders with other means short of prison.
The House of Representatives voted 63-7 in favor of the plan, which had already passed the Senate by a similar majority of 31-2. The measure grew out of recommendations made by a panel appointed by the governor, Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson and legislative leaders.
Estimates are the bill will save perhaps $162 million over the next decade by helping South Dakota avoid having to build new prison facilities.
Everyone likes to save money. But the real savings here is in human potential. Why send a nonviolent offender to prison? Locking him up does not keep anyone safe; it may actually make him more of an offender than he was before. It may be that closely supervised probation and parole and expanded courts to deal with drug and alcohol offenses are indeed the better solutions, as proponents of this bill believe.
At least our lawmakers of both parties seem to agree that we need to give it a try.