Rising Cost of Incarceration Alarms South Dakota Officials
Alarm Over Costs of South Dakota Prisons
By Ron Branson
Below is an article published within the South Dakota Argus Leader. Those unfamiliar with the back ground of South Dakota and JAIL4Judges may be curious as to why I am particularly interested in this article, and why I am furthering it to our readers.
The name "Ron Branson" and "JAIL4Judges" is all to familiar with the officials within South Dakota when Judicial Accountability Initiative Law hit the South Dakota Ballot in 2006. A special website was set up that recounts that event. It is all documented for the world to see.
The entire government, including every state legislator, Chief Justice David Gilbertson, the governor, the state attorney general, and the assorted counties and cities took aim at judicial accountability to defeat it. The illegally turned the state capitol building in Pierre into a campaign office, and gained the aid of the oil industry, the bankers, and the union of insurance companies to bring judicial accountability down.
Because of their lies that "Ron Branson's objective was to release all felons within the South Dakota prisons so that they could go after the jurors that convicted them," I started doing a little research. Here is what I found. Out of all nations of the earth, America holds the record by far as to having the greatest incarceration rate. There is not even a close second.
Having so ascertained this fact, I then found that of all 50 states in America, South Dakota had the highest prison rate per capita of all states. Thus, South Dakota has held the highest prison rate per capita within the world.
I further found that one of their state senators held all of the commissary rights throughout all the prisons in South Dakota that was making him immensely wealthy.
It became apparent why the politicians of South Dakota became so threatened by the prospect of bringing judicial accountability to the ballot in South Dakota, even to the extent of buying up the media and telling everyone that I was seeking to empty their prisons of felons so they could go after the jurors that convicted them. The plan was to scare everyone in South Dakota from voting for judicial accountability.
Well, now we see that they were able to maintain their record of being the prison capitol of the world per capita, they are now faced with a different threat, this one of finances. Ironically, one publisher there in South Dakota mocked me when I predicted an financial collapse of the entire economy in one of my articles written in 1996. It was said, "If you want to know what Ron Branson believes, take a look at one of his nightmare predictions that he states will happen to America. Lo and behold, as I stated, we shortly thereafter saw the massive housing foreclosure predicted, and the loss of jobs, and the closing of businesses. Whether it be classified as a nightmare, or not, it was definite truth that came to pass.
Had JAIL4Judges passed in South Dakota, I can assure you that things would certainly be different today in this country, as South Dakota would have been the first in the line of dominoes bringing about constitutional principles directly to the People in the creation of an Independent Special Grand Jury that would have changed America immensely. See for yourself how frightened the South Dakota politicians were at the prospects of accountability in South Dakota, www.SD-JAIL4Judges.org
Rising cost of incarceration alarms South Dakota officials
Task force to study system in reform effort
A South Dakota committee will examine rising prison costs and the state’s exceptionally high lockup rate in an effort to reform the criminal justice system and save money.“This is not about being hard or soft on crime. This is about being smart on crime,” Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Wednesday from Pierre.
Daugaard said the state’s inmate population has grown from 600 in 1980 to 3,600 today and that corrections has become a $100 million annual burden in the state budget. He said that at present rates, the inmate population would increase another one-fourth to 4,500 the next 10 years at a cost of $224 million. The state within five years would need two new prisons, one each for men and women, costing $126 million to build and an additional $98 million in operation costs.He said he had no preconceived notions about whether studying the problem would lead to shorter lockup times. But a report he cited notes that South Dakota has a prison population that increasingly consists of low-level offenders convicted of nonviolent crimes, and that the rising corrections budget “has not yielded commensurate improvements to public safety.”
Daugaard spoke in a news conference from the Capitol in which he announced an 18-member panel he is calling the Criminal Justice Initiative work group. The group includes six legislators from both parties, three judges and others from the legal system or the governor’s office. They met Wednesday morning for the first time. They will reconvene monthly to produce policy recommendations by November that Daugaard can take to the Legislature in January. The group is working with the Pew Center on the States, a Washington, D.C., organization that analyzes state government issues.
Several officials spoke after Daugaard in the news conference.Rep. Brian Gosch, a Republican from Rapid City, said South Dakota would be among at least 20 states that are implementing prison reforms.
David Gilbertson, the state’s chief justice, said various local jurisdictions have treatment and probation programs that might be able to serve the entire state.
“Violent people need to be behind bars — other people, perhaps not,” Gilbertson said. “This is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. I know we can improve public safety, hold offenders accountable and reduce spending.”
Daugaard said South Dakota has crime rates similar to neighboring states but a higher percentage of the population behind bars. The state has 415 inmates per 100,000 residents, a ratio about double the 226 per 100,000 in North Dakota and 185 per 100,000 in Minnesota.
He said he’s never understood that and began to look at the issue during the 2010 campaign.
“It confounded me, and it bothered me,” he said.
But it might not automatically indicate a problem, he said.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong. We’re different. Maybe we’re right.”
Group members will look at how procedures in the prison system, including probation and parole, contribute to South Dakota’s situation, but they will not focus on why criminals break the law in the first place.
“This isn’t about sociology. It’s about economics. It’s about public safety, and it’s about accountability,” he said.Asked whether the state can use a high lockup rate as a badge of honor, Daugaard said, “It’s emotionally satisfying to say we’re tough on crime. When you’re tough on crime, you’re being the protector. There’s also a group that offends that maybe is low-risk and nonviolent that we can hold accountable and keep people safe without keeping them behind bars.”