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2013: The Year In Criminal Justice

December 30, 2013, 9:50 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

2013: The Year In Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice Reform

South Dakota undertook historic changes in the criminal justice system in 2013.

A growing prison population in the state pushed leaders to make reforms to the criminal justice system in 2013. Instead of building new prisons, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard proposed handling nonviolent drug and alcohol offenders differently.

"We have the highest incarceration rate in our region, two and four times as great as some of our sister states and we're not getting better public safety," Daugaard said in January.

The reform package passed the legislature in less than four weeks. As a result nonviolent offenders will take part in more drug and alcohol court programs that will be expanded throughout the state. The programs hold those offenders accountable while still allowing them to live and work in their communities.

Sex Trafficking

Federal, state, and local law enforcement also teamed up in 2013 to tackle the problem of sex trafficking in South Dakota. They formed the Human Trafficking Task Force on the same day a Chicago man was sentenced to life in federal prison for forcing girls as young as 16 to work as prostitutes in Sioux Falls.

"If you engage in trafficking understand that this task force, law enforcement, will be behind every corner and we will drag you to justice," U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson said in May.

Nine men who were trying to solicit sex from teen girls were arrested during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in an undercover sting operation. KELOLAND News also went undercover with the Division of Criminal Investigation as they arrested men looking for young girls online.

Mother Of Deuel County Babies Found

South Dakota saw two breaks in unsolved cases in 2013. In August, authorities announced that they found the mother of the babies whose remains were found in a cooler in Deuel County in late 2012. Court documents say 34-year-old Kelly Anderson of Clarkfield, Minnesota, admitted that she was the mother of the babies in August. She then tried to commit suicide but agents were able to take her into custody. She was committed to a mental health facility in Minnesota but has not been charged.

Big Break In 1971 Cold Case

In September, Attorney General Marty Jackley announced that authorities had found the old Studebaker Sherri Miller and Pam Jackson were riding in before their disappearance in 1971. The car was found upside down in a rural Union County creek. Evidence showed that the car was in the highest gear possible when it crashed and foul play is not likely.

"We do believe that obviously this case is very important and certainly with the license plate number, we do believe it has to do with the disappearance of Cheryl Miller and Pam Jackson," South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said in September.

Arrest Made In Death Of Adrian Peterson’s Son

South Dakota received national attention this year when the son of Minnesota Vikings running back and NFL Most Valuable Player Adrian Peterson was killed. Peterson came to Sioux Falls in October to see two-year-old Tyrese Ruffin while he was in critical condition. The toddler died a day later and the boyfriend of the boy's mother, 27-year-old Joseph Patterson, was arrested and faces murder and manslaughter charges. Peterson says he had just found out about his son in Sioux Falls less than two months before his death.

"Blindsided and just accepting it for what it was and moving forward, and then, you know, a month and a half later I get that phone call and I still haven't been able to wrap my head around it," Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said in an interview with ESPN.

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