PIERRE S.D. – In response to both state and national concerns about how the criminal justice system interacts with members of the community suffering from mental illness, Chief Justice David Gilbertson has announced his intention to appoint a Task Force to study the issue in South Dakota’s communities. The Task Force membership will be released in the near future and will include representatives of the Unified Judicial System, the Department of Social Services, law enforcement, prosecutors, county officials, and the mental health system.
“Mental illness is all too common a root cause for an individual’s entry into the criminal justice system,” said the Chief Justice. “By analyzing data and studying this issue, South Dakota’s criminal justice system can look for improvements that will benefit the person suffering from a mental illness as well as our criminal justice system and community health system as a whole.”
This announcement follows the Chief Justice’s attendance at a national conference that highlighted the impacts of mental illness in the criminal justice system.
“I applaud the Chief Justice for addressing this important issue,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “I look forward to both my office and the Department of Social Services joining in this work.”
It is anticipated that the Task Force will begin its work after the first of the year.