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Third Noem Commutee Gets in New Trouble with Law; Governor Batting .750 on Second Chances

Back in December, Governor Kristi Noem granted seven Christmas-Eve commutations. “These seven individuals have each earned a second chance. Each of these individuals has demonstrated a low risk of recidivism,” said the Governor.

If we define “low risk” as a 20% chance that one of those commutees would interact negatively with law enforcement again, then there’s only a 21% (80%^7) chance that all seven would stay out of trouble. We may thus argue statistically that at least one out of seven commutee’s fall from grace was likely.

Britni Goodhart makes those percentages real:

A woman released early from prison by Gov. Kristi Noem late last year is set to appear in court this month on a new drug charge.

An initial appearance hearing is scheduled for Sept. 26 in Grant County for Britni Jean Goodhart, 33, who faces a felony charge of ingesting a controlled substance stemming from an April 23 arrest.

According to court documents obtained by The Dakota Scout, Goodhart was cited for alleged consumption of methamphetamine and didn’t show up to an initial hearing on June 6, leading to Judge Dawn Elshere issuing a warrant for her arrest.

The September hearing was scheduled after Goodhart was processed on the arrest warrant on June 20. It’s unclear if she was arrested or turned herself in.

…Goodhart was one of seven former South Dakota Department of Corrections inmates who had their prison sentences commuted by the governor on Christmas Eve. Noem commuted Goodhart’s five year prison sentence for a previous drug arrest. She’d spent less than a year behind bars [Austin Goss and Joe Sneve, “Former Prisoner Commuted by Gov. Noem Arrested Again,” Dakota Scout, 2023.09.14].

But Noem’s batting average on commutees is worse than 6 out of 7. Another of the Christmas commutees, Danielle Blakney, pled guilty to another criminal charge less than two weeks after receiving Noem’s grace. The judge in Blakney’s previous case didn’t seem to think Blakney had a low risk of recidivism:

The judge wrote in the sentencing order that Blakney “is not a candidate for probation and needs a structured environment to continue her necessary sobriety.” The judge noted her long criminal history, use of a variety of drugs and previous probation violations.

Blakney had served about three months of that multi-year prison term when Noem commuted the sentence on Christmas Eve and ordered Blakney’s release on parole [Seth Tupper, “Woman Pleads Guilty to Another Crime 11 Days After Sentence Reduction by Noem,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.01.05].

Tupper reported last April that one of Noem’s previous five commutees, David Lynn Anderson, also ended up in trouble again:

The first commutation issued by Gov. Noem went to David Lynn Anderson in 2020. Anderson, who is now 56 years old, had been serving a 125-year prison sentence for vehicular homicide and vehicular battery.

In 1994, he was driving drunk at an estimated 60 mph over the speed limit when his car hydroplaned out of control in Sioux Falls and struck another vehicle. The driver of that vehicle, Galen Barta, was killed. Anderson, who was on parole at the time for other crimes, fled the scene and was arrested later.

…Public records indicate the Board of Pardons and Paroles conducted a commutation hearing for Anderson in February 2020, and Noem commuted Anderson’s sentence from 125 to 108 years in August 2020. The board paroled Anderson in February 2022. By that time, he had spent 27 years in prison.

Anderson was cited for exhibition driving six months later, in August 2022 in Yankton. State law defines the crime as driving “in such a manner that creates or causes unnecessary engine noise, tire squeal, skid, or slide upon acceleration or stopping; that simulates a temporary race; or that causes the vehicle to unnecessarily turn abruptly or sway” [Seth Tupper, “Parolee Cited for Exhibition Driving After Noem Reduces Vehicular Homicide Sentence,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.04.07].

Three of the 12 convicts who have received commutations from Noem have subsequently pled guilty to other offenses. Is a 25% failure rate among Noem’s commutees predictable attrition among her second chances, or does it signal that Noem isn’t really that good a judge of character?

But hey, you other nine commutees: keep your noses clean! If any of you mess up, she’s going to have to issue more commutations to get batting average back up!


  1. Noem Nemesis 2023-09-18

    And while on the subject of recidivism, I just came across an article that ranked SD with the 18th highest/worst recidivism rate in the country. Do we blame Noem for that? If she is going to take undeserved credit––as she eagerly does––for every positive state statistical ranking, she needs to own the bad ones, too. With respect to the commutations, themselves, it would be interesting to know what really impels them. How, exactly, did the 2022 Christmas Seven distinguish themselves in Noem’s eyes. Certainly, it wasn’t because they had a job lined up at Planned Parenthood or SDPB.

  2. Arlo Blundt 2023-09-18

    South Dakota police actually do a good job of arresting parole and probation violators. It’s a small town environment and the drug-criminal underground is well known, not only to Cops but to everyone else. Mrs. Noem’s record is not anything unusual, in fact it seems to me it is pretty good. If drug offenders don’t involve themselves in rehabilitation programs and radically change their social peers, the chance of reoffending is very high. Treatment Works.

  3. grudznick 2023-09-18

    Mr. Blundt points out that Mr. H, despite his raging NDS, has pointed out that Ms. Noem is doing a wonderful job of releasing derelicts who have mostly stayed out of the hooscow. As you all probably know, grudznick would leave them locked up indefinitely, especially the drug fiends.

    But hey de ho, isn’t there one of those heinous boards that picks these fellows and “ladies” to get back out on the street? If we had the One Board to Rule Them All, would this batting average go up or down. That is what you must ask yourownselfs, before we credit Ms. Noem with having such a great judge of character.

  4. Arlo Blundt 2023-09-18

    Grudz–I did not sat Mrs.Noem was doing a wonderful job, or that she is a great judge of character. I said her record was “not anything unusual….in fact it’s pretty good” and I based that observation on her being near the national norm. The reason I gave for that record of being near the national norm is community vigilance, not any great judgement on Mrs. Noem’s part.

  5. leslie 2023-09-20

    So, deigning not to stoop low to converse with grdz, as some of you playfully do (i don’t read him, another version of the use of the term “idiot” to apply to such as those Republican ideologues and outright liars), Kristi has a drug and alcohol problem. And she doesn’t listen to experts who understand substance abuse. Relapse, assuredly is common, but is no reason or excuse to ignore medical science in the fairly new evolving field of recovery.

    Her abuse of the pardon power, like Trump’s, her mentor since 2015, is another problem she has. You would think with the golden opportunity the Republican party offered then then young juvenile delinquent speed-breaking beauty queen, she might have grown up in her Washington DC years, but no, just like her pardons, she keeps associating with toxic people failing to understand that her political role in leadership should involve an element of judgement and wisdom.

    Beauty queen is her only accomplishment.

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