Drug Court success paves way for Criminal Justice Reform - KOTA Territory News

Drug Court success paves way for Criminal Justice Reform


Tuesday, the Northern Hills Drug Court saw three more people graduate, a number that's expected to grow very soon.

It's an alternative to locking up repeat offenders that could save the state millions. Drug court proves successful and the program could soon expand across South Dakota.
Including the most recent graduates, a total of 30 people have avoided prison, pledging to lead a drug free life.

South Dakota currently has only five drug courts.

Judge Jerome Eckrich says approximately 87 percent of female inmates and 84 percent of male inmates who entered the corrections system in 2010 were diagnosed with a drug or alcohol dependency.

And 60 percent of those who have graduated, said they have not used drugs 6 months later.

"It's actually a sign of the times. This is what we can expect to see across the state. If you want something easy go to prison. If you want something hard, come into drug court," said Eckrich.
"It changed my entire life. I've had to learn things that I never thought I could. I didn't work before, I never had to, I had to teach myself how to keep a job," said graduate Chance Williams.
Judge Eckrich says Governor Daugaard is expected to sign the Criminal Justice Reform Bill Wednesday the 6th.

That bill is expected to allow the number of drug courts in South Dakota to double by next year.

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