SIOUX FALLS, SD -
The state of South Dakota is looking to expand alternative sentencing programs in an effort to rehabilitate drug and alcohol offenders instead of just putting them in prison.
It's something the Glory House in Sioux Falls has been doing for decades and the organization’s director is glad the state is now looking to do the same thing.
The Glory House plays a role in offering counseling and housing for repeat offenders going through the Sioux Falls drug court program which requires those offenders to attend weekly court hearings and treatment.
"This is something I think should have been done quite awhile ago and we are finally moving in the direction where we just know we have to do things smarter," Glory House Executive Director Dave Johnson said.
The Glory House was founded 45 years ago and offers the help offenders need to be productive members of society. Johnson says he's glad the state is looking at expanding alternative programs like drug courts.
"We're getting to the point where we're really slowing down and assessing what do those individuals truly need and how can we help them succeed versus saying this is the sentence, this is what we're going to do with you, and now you're going to prison and good luck when you get out," Johnson said.
Johnson says putting repeat drug and alcohol offenders in prison doesn't necessarily treat their problem and creates more problems with the families they leave behind.
"We're taking people out of the communities where they can't be fathers, they can't be mothers, nor are they paying taxes. They are sitting somewhere else," Johnson said.
That's why Johnson looks forward to the upcoming discussion in Pierre as the state looks to move toward treating the problem instead of locking it away.
"Almost all these people are coming back into the community and I'd rather do what's appropriate and keep them paying taxes and being moms and being dads and going to work," Johnson said.
The state will also be looking to expand DUI courts, which help chronic alcohol offenders, during the upcoming legislative session. Right now there is only DUI court in Pierre and Aberdeen.
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