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CJI has recently assessed pretrial policies and practices in South Dakota’s two largest counties—Pennington and Minnehaha. Following comprehensive sentencing and corrections reforms in 2013, the Governor’s Office was interested in examining the front-end of the criminal justice system.

CJI was tasked with determining what drives the counties’ jail populations and exploring the feasibility of various pretrial options. CJI worked with the Sheriff’s Departments to extract and analyze jail population data, with a focus on the unsentenced populations. Concurrently, CJI conducted pretrial system assessments that included an extensive review of policies and other documentation as well as onsite stakeholder interviews to determine current practices and explore potential opportunities.

At the close of the project, CJI presented to each county a series of actionable recommendations based on the data analysis and system assessment to reduce the jail populations and increase pretrial release options. The project team included Jesse Revicki, Kristin Bechtel, and Melissa Haynes.