Proposed criminal justice studies move forward in SD Legislature

The South Dakota House Judiciary Committee Wednesday passes two bills dealing with possible criminal justice reforms.

State Supreme Court Justice Steven Jensen requested both measures.

One would set up a task force to look into ways to assist offenders ages 18 to 25. The task force would look at proposals to engage that age group, which also has a high rate of returning to prison.

The second bill would form a seperate task force to examine the growing costs of providing legal representation to indigent defendants.

Over the last ten years, South Dakota counties have seen their costs for court-appointed attorneys go from $11-million to nearly $21-million. Defendants are supposed to pay back the cost but counties typically only see about 8% of the money.

Both measures move to the House floor.