Minnehaha County, SD

Change in Jail Population 6%

Action Areas Community Engagement Courts Diversion Pretrial Services

Last Updated

Background

When Minnehaha County joined the Safety and Justice Challenge, roughly 24% of the jail bookings and 37% of jail bed days included those who self-identify as having a behavioral health or substance use disorder. Untreated mental health and substance use issues had led to individuals continuing to cycle in and out of the jail.

A significant percentage of people quickly churned through the jail. In an analysis of a 12-month period (April 2017–April 2018), 51% of individuals released from jail were there less than 24 hours and 27% were released within 3 days. On a given day in April 2018, around 74% of the jail population was pretrial.

Despite making up 8.4% of the general population, as of 2018, people of color were over-represented in the jail. Specifically, Black people represented about 14% of jail releases and Indigenous people represented about 31%, totaling 45% of the jail releases, on average.

Strategies

Since joining the Safety and Justice Challenge, Minnehaha County has advanced a number of strategies to rethink and redesign its criminal justice system so that it is more fair, just, and equitable for all.

01

PRETRIAL SERVICES

To support enhanced pretrial services so people who pose little to no risk to public safety are not sitting in jail, Minnehaha County has implemented a pretrial services team, including three full-time staff. Each individual placed on pretrial supervision checks in regularly via text, email, phone, a kiosk in the jail lobby, or other methods. Staff also assist with making the county’s case processing more efficient.

02

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

The county has done a deep dive into authentic community engagement through two committees to foster conversations and decision-making, as well as programming and events to engage people. In addition, the county created a leadership program for justice-involved people, and partnerships are being developed for Native American-based services that are underway.

03

DIVERSION TO SERVICES

The county is focused on creating better access to services for individuals with mental health and substance use issues. In 2021, the county opened a community triage center called “The Link” to increase access to mental health and behavioral health resources. A nonprofit board including county and city officials, two major healthcare partners, and a regional foundation, led on the development of the center.

04

IMPROVED CASE PROCESSING

The county is focused on building more efficiencies in its case processing by implementing best practices. Through collaboration across criminal justice stakeholders in the justice system, the county has created an in-custody review team and an updated bond schedule, as well as a program for text message court reminders to help ensure people attend their court dates.

Results

As a result of the strategies above, Minnehaha County has made progress towards its goal of rethinking and redesigning its criminal justice system. Specifically, the county has been able to implement strategies to make the justice system more fair, just, and equitable for all, without jeopardizing public safety.

Quartery ADP for Minnehaha County (2018-2021)

6.5% from baseline

More Results

As a result of the new community triage center for mental health and substance use disorders, more people with mental health and substance use needs have been able to access the services they need, instead of cycling in and out of the jail. As a result of its revised bond schedule, jail bookings have decreased by 26%. The new community triage center, opened in June 2021, provides another option for law enforcement to bring people who are better suited for assistance for their mental health and substance use disorders rather than jail, and Minnehaha anticipates continuing to decrease bookings because of this new resource.

Efforts to engage the community have allowed the county to foster deep relationships with community groups who continue to be involved in conversations and decision-making related to the strategies to transform our justice system. Specifically, the county developed a Race, Equity, and Community workgroup to develop and advise on a community-based workplan, as well as engaged top leadership of the community to support the work of the Community Engagement Committee. The county also developed formal partnerships with culturally-based organizations to inform strategies to improve the justice system. Last, the county hosted a community-wide “Community Table Talk” event focused on racial equity in the justice system to garner information about what the community needs.

There has also been and continues to be productive collaboration among key stakeholders in the justice system, including judges, law enforcement, public defenders, community members, and many others, that supports the county’s efforts.

Remaining Challenges

Minnehaha County is focused on addressing its remaining challenges in its local justice system.

The county is focused on enhancing its data to better inform decisions in the justice system. Specifically, the county’s leaders continue to look for innovative ways to assist in data tracking across systems.

In addition, to continue to build on progress to date and address the over-representation of people of color in the justice system, the county will remain focused in the next few years on engaging the community in discussions and decisions about strategies to improve the justice system.

Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on every aspect of the county’s local justice system and continues to uniquely affect those incarcerated in local jails. The foundation of collaborative, data-driven strategies, including the necessary structures and collaboration from local stakeholders that are in place to support these strategies, has set the county up well to respond to the pandemic swiftly and effectively.

Lead Agency

Minnehaha County

Contact Information

Erin Srstka
erin.srstka@usd.edu

Partners

Minnehaha County Commission, Urban Indian Health, Minnehaha County Sheriff, Minnehaha County State’s Attorney, Minnehaha County Public Defender’s Office, Think3D, Minnehaha County Office of Public Advocate, South Dakota Unified Judicial System, 2nd Circuit, Minnehaha County Human Services, Sioux Falls Police Department

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