Task Force on Community Justice and Mental Illness Early Intervention

In November of 2015, Chief Justice David Gilbertson announced his intention to form a task force to examine the issues surrounding people with mental illness entering the criminal justice system. The call for a task force to study this issue was also supported by Governor Dennis Daugaard and state and local government leaders. Funded by a generous grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Task Force held its first meeting on March 30, 2016 in Pierre. Meetings, which are open to the public, will be held on a monthly basis through October 2016 at locations throughout the state.

The Task Force consists of representatives from all three branches of government, local government, criminal justice stakeholder groups and mental health stakeholder groups. The Task Force's charge is to inquire why and how individuals with mental illness come into contact with the criminal justice system, examine the detention of these individuals in county jails, research evidence-based practices and successful reforms from other states, develop tailored policy options for South Dakota, simulate the impact of proposed reforms, and explore possible reallocation of any potential savings into strategies that improve public safety and the evaluation and treatment of mental illness.

Work Group Goals

  1. To improve public safety and the treatment of people with mental illness in contact with the criminal justice system through appropriate evaluation, intervention, diversion, and supervision.
  2. To more effectively identify mental illness in people coming into contact with the criminal justice system, through improved training in local criminal justice systems, better use of screening tools and skills, and expanded response and diversion options in communities for law enforcement and the courts, all while holding offenders and government more accountable.
  3. To better allocate limited local resources in order to improve early intervention services and preserve limited jail and prison resources for violent, chronic, and career criminals.

Task Force Report