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Pennington Increases Addiction Treatment Beds

Pennington County officials are doubling the number of addiction treatment beds in Rapid City.

It’s part of an effort to stop the revolving door in the criminal justice system and meth addiction.

West River officials cut the ribbon for a 64-bed residential addiction treatment wing at the Pennington County Care Campus in downtown Rapid City.

The county received a $2.2 million donation to complete the treatment wing. Rapid City donated $900,000.

It’s part of an ongoing effort by Pennington County and the MacArthur Foundation, which provided funding to find alternatives to incarceration.

Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom says it’s part of a three pronged approach to addressing the area’s meth issue.

“We’ve arrested people in record numbers. We need vigorous enforcement, but until we get serious about prevention and serious about treatment you’re not going to stop what I call the churn through the system,” Thom says. “People get addicted to methamphetamine and they just churn through the criminal justice system. This is a way to help hopefully intervene in that process.”

Treatment can be court ordered for anywhere from six weeks to six months. It’s part of the drug court system.

Governor Kristi Noem says Care Campus is an example for the rest of the state.

“A huge percentage of our population is in our criminal justice system because of addition or illegal drug use,” Noem says. “Often times while they’re in our prisons and our jails they’re not getting the kind of addiction treatment that they need. I would love to see a way that we can be much more efficient and help people better. That’s by getting them addiction treatment and not necessarily putting them in prison.”

State lawmakers are also studying offenses surrounding controlled substances.