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Crime uptick stretching Minnehaha public defender's office

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- An uptick in crime in and around South Dakota's largest city is stretching resources at the Minnehaha County Public Defender's office.

SIOUX FALLS (AP) - An uptick in crime in and around South Dakota's largest city is stretching resources at the Minnehaha County Public Defender's office.

The Argus Leader reports that the increase is forcing attorneys to spread their time and attention across more clients. The increase in cases is largely driven by upticks in unlawful occupancy, drug and assault cases.

Public Defender Traci Smith says her office's caseload has increased 35 percent in five years. The department added one full-time attorney during that time, leaving it with 22 attorneys to manage nearly 7,500 cases in 2015.

Smith says when attorneys cannot provide proper attention and representation to each client, the risk of innocent people going to prison increases. She says excessive punishment becomes the norm.

Related Topics: CRIME
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