Phase one of the Smart Justice campaign in South Dakota took place during the election season leading up to November 6. After some evaluation, ACLU-South Dakota will know what lies ahead in phase two.

One element of the effort was bringing the issues of incarceration and recidivism into the open during the Attorney General’s race which Policy Director Libby Skarin believes was successful.

“We’re really happy that we were able to get our vision of Smart Justice out there and that we were able to see people taking it seriously. To hear some of the candidates talk about the things that we have been urging South Dakotans to talk about for a long time. We’re proud of where we’re at and where our Smart Justice work can go.”

In assessing the campaign’s effectiveness Skarin says she sees what was done as a net positive, but there is more work ahead.

“The criminal justice issues facing our state are vast, complicated, and intertwined. Right now we’re taking the time to think about what we want to do next and how we want to further that conversation. Particularly on women’s incarceration and the really troubling numbers that we’re seeing in women being locked up for drug offenses and non-violent offenses.”

In the near term, ACLU-South Dakota will focus on legislative proposals that will make rehabilitation and prevention more viable especially for drug offenses.


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