State's Attorney reacts to juvenile justice reform report

Published: Mar. 29, 2017 at 6:43 PM MDT
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South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has put out his report on juvenile justice reform in the state.

Daugaard says the state has made great strides since the reforms went into place in 2015.

The report says the new juvenile commitments to the Department of Corrections have declined 43 percent since 2014, and the number or recommitments is down 62 percent.

Pennington County States Attorney Mark Vargo says there is still work to be done...

Vargo says, I think it can be true, that perhaps we were sending too many kids from the community into secured detention, and then when they came back, we were expecting them to be changed. Put them back at home, back in the same community, and they've never gotten the tools to deal with that process. But it's also true that if you don't have any kind of consequences for a juvenile, that you run the risk that they're not going to buy in to the attempt to change. So finding that medium is going to be the challenge of not just declaring victory with the juvenile justice reform, but also continuing to modify them where it makes sense."

Vargo says he believes the juvenile diversion program in Pennington County has been a big success story.