The task force would study changes to the juvenile justice system


PIERRE, SD (AP) — Frustrated teachers in South Dakota say something needs to be done about the growing number of repeat juvenile offenders disrupting classrooms.

The state Senate is expected to consider a bill this week that begins work to reform South Dakota’s juvenile justice system.

Last week, a Senate committee heard impassioned testimony from educators, public advocates, school board officials and others before passing legislation that would create a 15-member task force to study the current system and make recommendations on reform.

“Students quickly learn that the juvenile justice system is very soft,” said Harrisburg High School principal Ryan Rollinger. “I was told directly to my face, ‘I don’t care, they’re just going to give me three more months probation. “”

The task force would include five House members appointed by the president, five senators appointed by the acting president, and five people “with knowledge and experience in juvenile justice” appointed by the governor, Chief Argus reported. .

“I don’t think that will solve the problem,” said Sen. Michael Rohl, R-Aberdeen, during a discussion on the motion to pass. “But it will definitely force all parties at the table to be able to create something that could be a solution.”

Under the oversight of the Executive Council of the Legislative Research Council, the group will return to the drawing board to develop alternatives for the placement of juvenile offenders, report on its findings and recommend legislation by January 1, 2023.

Since overhauling South Dakota’s juvenile system in 2015, school district officials say they’ve seen a deterioration in juvenile behavior, including serious crimes ranging from theft, possession of weapons, assault, beating and injuries and attempted murders.


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