Friday, June 26, 2015

‘Terrible Racial Disparities’ Not Fixed With SD Juvenile Justice Reform

South Dakota took a hard look at juvenile justice, and found glaring problems with its system. The “Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative Work Group’s Report,” issued in November 2014, resulted in the passing of State Bill 73 in January. The bill calls for an overhaul of South Dakota's juvenile justice system, including a 50 percent reduction of incarcerated youth by 2020. But for Native youth, will that be enough?

Joshua Rovner, a state advocate associate at The Sentencing Project, Washington, D.C., doesn’t think so. He said that nationally, Native youth are arrested less often than all other youth — but not in South Dakota. There, the Native population is 9 percent, but comprises almost 40 percent of the incarcerated youth. “South Dakota shows terrible racial disparities,” Rovner said. Sarah McGregor of ALIIVE, a diversion program in Roberts County, South Dakota, noted that law enforcement makes contact with Native versus white youth at a 9 - 1 ratio.



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