Pennington County Jail over capacity - KOTA Territory News

Pennington County Jail over capacity

Posted: Updated: Nov 28, 2007 05:16 PM MST

Lela French

Judd Thompson has been a probation officer for more than 30-years. As chief of the Pennington County Court Services Thompson stays busy keeping an eye on more than 80 criminals.

"Our days run 24-7. I have staff that work everyday of the year. I have staff that work Christmas Day. I have staff that work Thanksgiving Day, to make sure clients are being seen," says Chief Probation Officer Judd Thompson.

That's no surprise when there are more than two-thousand people on probation in the county.

And there are more than three hundred criminals behind bars.

In the past five years, there's been a 29% increase in the number of inmates at the Pennington County Jail, 44% of which are Native American.

A number the sheriff says is too high.

"One of my goals has always been is there a better way to deal with the criminals rather than locking them all up in jail," says Sheriff Don Holloway.

One alternative is sending them to the 24-7 Program. If the main reason they're in jail is due to drugs and alcohol this program helps keep them sober.

"And that keeps them out of the actual jail," says Thompson.

Sheriff Holloway says they're looking at implementing an adult diversion program like they have for juveniles which ultimately provides more options.

And two more floors in their addition are almost complete which will provide more room.

"Now we're already at capacity and looking at finishing the other two floors in that annex so we can get more jail space. I mean we can't build ourselves out this jail problem," says Sheriff Holloway.

But they can continue to supply other options. Either way probation officers say the bottom line is making sure criminals clean up their act.

"The idea is to get people to become law-abiding citizens, employed on a full time basis, and paying taxes, and staying out of our courthouse," says Thompson.

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