Legal aids replaced by an app in South Dakota prisons

Published: Oct. 12, 2017 at 5:33 PM CDT
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South Dakota prison inmates no longer have access to paid legal aides, meaning more than $200,000 of taxpayer money will go somewhere else in the Department of Corrections.

Department of Corrections Secretary, Denny Kaemingk, says “If we have a large budget, we have continually more inmates coming in and so the demand for funds is great."

They have installed the LexisNexis app on these tablets for the inmates to use instead.

But LexisNexis is not free, so instead of paying legal aides more than $200,000 a year, they are paying $54,000 to use this app each year for the next few years.

There have been two problems, high costs for counsel aid and limited time in the law library, but Kaemingk says this app will solve those issues.

"The time that they can spend on LexisNexis, looking up case law, is numerous hours each and every day. So we solved that problem by LexisNexis and we are saving over $200,000 a year from our budget in the department of corrections with this change," explains Kaemingk.

Some are not in favor of this because these inmates have to learn how to use this app to access an electronic legal library.

So if an inmate has a cognitive disability or does not understand something in the LexisNexis app, they will have to ask other inmates for help instead of professional legal aid.