By Victoria Wicks
The Joint Appropriations Committee of the South Dakota state legislature heard testimony Tuesday about the costs of funding the Criminal Justice Initiative. The system-wide overhaul proposed by Governor Dennis Daugaard and Chief Justice David Gilbertson affects several departments and will require upfront costs that officials hope will lead to later savings. Proponents of the initiative tout the program as a win-win proposition: the state ultimately saves money, and people who have veered into criminal behavior have a chance to find a better way to live.
Jason Dilges is director of the Bureau of Finance and Management and is one of the proponents. He says making changes initially costs more than maintaining the status quo.
“The upfront costs and the first couple years’ costs really are designed to put that safety net into place and to build the systems for which I think we’ll see the fruits of our labors in future years,” Dilges says. “If we don’t make those investments today, if we do a piecemeal approach, if we don’t cover all the gaps, we’ll be sure to fail.”
The criminal justice initiative requires training, additional personnel, and recordkeeping systems in a number of departments, including the Unified Judicial System, Corrections, and the Attorney General’s office.