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Prisons struggle with South Dakota's meth 'epidemic'

PIERRE (AP) — South Dakota corrections officials say they're struggling to manage a growing prison population due to the state's methamphetamine epidemic.

The Rapid City Journal reports that Corrections Secretary Denny Kaemingk told a state corrections commission Wednesday that South Dakota's current prison population stands at nearly 3,910 men and women, compared to about 3,560 in 2015.

Kaemingk says the meth epidemic has contributed to the increase in inmates. He says the majority of state inmates are nonviolent offenders, 84 percent of whom are women.

The department is creating a program for nonviolent female offenders that would offer drug and alcohol treatment at home as an alternative to incarceration.

The program is financed by a $1.75 million Department of Justice grant. It is expected to begin by May.