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Daugaard: Reform Could Lower Crime Rates

January 9, 2013, 5:30 AM by Austin Hoffman

Daugaard: Reform Could Lower Crime Rates

One of the largest part of Governor Dennis Daugaard's State of the State address Tuesday looked at the state's prison population.  Legislation has already been drafted to try to ease the stress of overpopulation on the prison system.

Daugaard says 80 percent of South Dakota's prison population is made up of non-violent offenders and he wants to look at alternative sentencing to reduce that number.

The proposal Daugaard filed Tuesday has 18 different recommendations. He says it's not about being soft on crime but being smart on crime.

"In fact if you look over the last ten years, 17 states have lowered their imprisonment rate and during that same time all 17 of them also lowered their crime rates," Daugaard said during his address.

Daugaard says these states saw crime rates fall twice as fast as crime rates in South Dakota. 

Parts of the bill look at expanding the state's drug court system, which the governor says has proved to save money and keep offenders out of prison. 

Another section looks at creating a program similar to the 24/7 program but for drug offenders. Offenders would have to call in to a hotline daily to find out whether they have to take a drug test. If they don't call in or test positive, they would then face penalties.

We'll have live reports from Pierre throughout the morning with a look at some of the other high-profile proposals lawmakers are expected to take up in the weeks ahead.

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