According to the Smart on Crime Work Group report presented to the Governor last drug arrests rose 20% in 2015 and methamphetamine-related arrests rose 40%. To put the rise of meth in graver perspective, drug arrests in 2015 were up 70% compared to 2011; over the same four years, meth-related arrests rose 435%.
70% of those meth-related arrests happened in Sioux Falls and Pennington County. Ah, city living….
All these drug busts are boosting the prison population above the 2013 criminal justice reforms projected (though the work group insists “the population remained below what the population would have been without the reforms”), so we’d better do something.
The work group (see all seventeen members listed at the bottom) recommends doing nine things. The lead proposal is to create an Interstate drug trafficking task force—not, apparently, interstate as in conference calling with law enforcement in Minnesota, Iowa, and whoever else is driving our meth market, but Interstate as in I-29 and I-90:
To address the increase of methamphetamine into the state, South Dakota will create a joint Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and Highway Patrol (HP) team to focus on interstate drug trafficking. The state will fund four new HP troopers to focus on methamphetamines and other illegal drugs coming in on the interstates. Further, DCI will assign two agents to the taskforce [Smart on Crime Work Group, 2016.12.15, p. 14].
The work group proposes supporting and expanding existing anti-drug education programs (see DSS’s “Meth Changes Everything” and A.G. Jackley’s “NO. METH. EVER.“), expanding the HOPE 24/7 Probation program from seven counties to all 66, incentivizing drug offenders to get clean with offers of reduced charges and early discharge from probation/parole supervision, and increasing training for prosecutors.
The work group proposes two more policies that aren’t entirely tied to meth arrests. First, the group wants to update South Dakota’s wiretapping statutes to allow law enforcement to surveil wireless communications. Right now, says the work group, South Dakota police can only snoop on land lines. (What? HP and DCI never got one of those Stingrays or DRTBoxes?) Adding wireless phones to our wiretap statutes will help our police “more effectively disrupt criminal enterprises.” Dealers and civil libertarians, don’t assume burner phones will save you: read up on your Snowden tech!
Even further removed from meth arrests is Proposal #6, which would exempt four more felonies from the “presumption of probation”, the standard set by the 2013 criminal justice reform that says we default to probation, not prison, for Class 5 and Class 6 felonies. The work group says we should default to prison for possession of a firearm by a felon, assault in county jail by a prisoner, promoting prostitution of a minor, and “public corruption.” Cracking down on those crimes sounds great (especially “public corruption,” right, candidate Jackley?), but they seem to stray from their mission, assigned by the Governor last summer, “to help curtail the methamphetamine epidemic and related public safety concerns.”
p.s.: Who’s responsible? The work group consists of these seventeen public officials:
- Jim Seward – Governor’s General Counsel, chair
- Tony Venhuizen – Governor’s Chief of Staff
- Marty Jackley – Attorney General
- Denny Kaemingk – Secretary of Corrections
- Senator Craig Tieszen
- Senator Billie Sutton
- Representative Tim Johns
- Representative Spencer Hawley
- Representative Jeff Partridge
- Scott Myren – Presiding Judge of the 5th Circuit
- Steven Jensen – Presiding Judge of the 1st Circuit
- Craig Pfeifle – Presiding Judge of the 7th Circuit
- Greg Sattizahn – State Court Administrator
- Mike Leidholt – Hughes County Sheriff
- Mark Vargo – Pennington County State’s Attorney
- Aaron McGowan – Minnehaha County State’s Attorney
- Traci Smith – Minnehaha County Public Defender