S.D. Senate OKs using outpatient services and jails in mental-competency criminal cases

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Pierre map locator South Dakota

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The state Senate wants services more broadly available in South Dakota for criminal defendants with mental-competency challenges.

Senators agreed jails and outpatient services could be used. Two of four sections at the state Human Services Center in Yankton are closed because of hiring difficulties. The vote was 28-3 along Republican-Democrat lines.

SB 46 now goes to the House of Representatives for a second committee hearing. The state Department of Human Services requested it.

“It gives flexibility to the department,” said Senator Lance Russell, a Hot Springs Republican.

Russell said the cost at the Human Services Center is about $700 per day, while it would be about $100 at the Minnehaha County jail in Sioux Falls.

Senator Craig Kennedy, a Yankton Democrat, said he voted against the bill in committee for several reasons. He said competency programs in jails either don’t work or work less effectively but cost less.

“It’s not a hospital. It’s not a treatment center. It’s a jail,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy’s other reason was the Legislature doesn’t adequately fund staff at the Human Services Center.

He said the bill “cheaps out” the services.

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