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Judicial Reform Positive For Prison Alternatives

February 6, 2013, 6:04 PM by Brady Mallory

Judicial Reform Positive For Prison Alternatives

An overhaul to the criminal justice system in South Dakota means potential growth for several facilities that help rehabilitate non-violent drug and alcohol offenders.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed into law a plan to cut the state's prison costs by treating more nonviolent offenders through intensive probation, parole and other programs outside prison walls. Daugaard signed the bill on Wednesday in a ceremony held in the Capitol Rotunda.

Officials with organizations that help people rehabilitate say the changes have the potential to save lives.

Glory House has been in Sioux Falls for 45 years and is a way for people who are coming out of prison with drug and alcohol offenses, to transition to normal life with a little extra help. It is also a place offenders can go to instead of prison.

This facility is a big way to help the non-violent drug and alcohol offenders and leave prison beds open the state's worst criminals. For many of the men and women there, it is a new reason to get out of bed.

"They now have a job for the first time.  For some of our folks, they've never had jobs before," Dave Johnson said.

Little things like earning a living and having a place to call home can have a big impact on recovery for people who have struggled with drugs and alcohol. Many people who use Glory House have children, so allowing them to earn money to support them gives them a sense of worth. 

Glory House has 84 beds and is usually at capacity. In fact, the facility is completely book through April. Johnson said Daugaard's action provides tremendous opportunities for the Glory House's future, which will mean more help for people who need it.

"To give them the stability and ability to just function in a sober environment and do the things we take for granted," Johnson said.

They keep clients clean and sober through methods like drug testing urine, which has had a 98 percent success rate for Glory.  GPS monitoring and counseling also play important roles in preventing recidivism.

Johnson hopes the reform helps alternative facilities grow, and said that is possible because state leaders are making the changes that need to be made.

"I believe the governor and everybody is saying, we can do this better.  We can still provide accountability, but let's do it in a different way so we're really having a true impact versus a revolving door.  We know that happens in prisons," Johnson said.

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