criminal justice

Joshua Haiar / SDPB

Lori Brandner said the trouble started while her sister was visiting.  

“I cut our visit short," Brandner said, "because my head hurt so bad.”  

Brandner was serving time at the Walworth County Jail. That’s in Selby, a town of less than 600 people in north-central South Dakota.   

Walworth County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

Inmates sued last month to close the Walworth County Jail in Selby, and now the county commissioners are closing it.

Commissioners approved a motion Tuesday to close the jail and transfer all the inmates to other area jails within 30 days.

Experts told county officials in recent years that the 111-year-old jail is outdated and unsafe, but county officials had kept the jail open.

Attorney Jim Leach of Rapid City represents the seven inmates who sued the county.

Walworth County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

Inmates have filed a lawsuit seeking to close the 111-year-old Walworth County Jail in Selby, which county officials have continued to operate despite numerous reports of unsafe conditions.

The lawsuit says county officials have repeatedly been told by their own experts that the jail is “outdated, grossly inadequate, and dangerous.”


In The Moment … June 23, 2020 Show 844 Hour 2

Police Accountability & Perception

Jun 2, 2020

In The Moment … June 2, 2020 Show 829 Hour 2

Jackie Hendry

  Note: This story originally aired on 11/12/19

Ten employers and more than 70 inmates participated in the Second Chance Job Fair at the South Dakota State Penitentiary. The event helps men who are currently incarcerated prepare for the next chapter of life and envision a place in their community beyond the penitentiary.

This is the first job fair of its kind at the penitentiary, and it’s the result of nearly six months of partnerships and preparation.

News: Nov 2 - 8

Nov 8, 2019

Reservations are struggling to fix flood-damaged roads.

One South Dakota lawmaker says the state needs to fulfill the financial promises of a 2013 criminal justice reform package.

Death row inmate Charles Russell Rhines was executed by lethal injection at 7:39 Monday night. 

ABA therapy is one of the most effective treatments for children with autism, but South Dakota families lost health insurance coverage for the expensive therapy earlier this year.

An Egyptian trade delegation arrived in Sioux Falls Sunday night.

photo courtesy

Sister Helen Prejean is the author of "Dead Man Walking," "The Death of Innocents," and "River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey." She joins In the Moment ahead of a visit to the University of Sioux Falls for Criminal Justice Week.

In The Moment ... January 23, 2019 Show 500 Hour 1

 Learn more about Emily's Hope here.

KELO-TV anchor and award-winning investigative reporter Angela Kennecke has been asked to share the story of her daughter's death on the national stage. Emily Groth was 21 when she died of fentanyl poisoning. Kennecke's professional focus on the growing opioid crisis in South Dakota had tragically arrived at her own doorstep.

In The Moment ... August 7, 2018 Show 395 Hour 2

How do South Dakotans feel about alternatives to prison? What has South Dakota already done to reduce incarceration and increase transparency?

Yesterday we welcomed leadership from South Dakota ACLU to talk about their "Smart Justice" initiative.

Today we welcomed South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley for a look at the state of criminal justice in South Dakota. 

Adria Botella

In The Moment ... August 6, 2018 Show 394 Hour 1

What is the difference between Smart Justice and Criminal Justice?

How can South Dakota expand the use of alternatives to incarceration?

How does the South Dakota Attorney General set the tone for effective diversion programs?

Heather Smith, Executive Director of ACLU of South Dakota, and Libby Skarin, Policy Director of ACLU, joined In The Moment to discuss possible improvements to South Dakota's criminal justice system

Michael Zimny

In The Moment ... June 27, 2018 Show 367 Hour 1

Substance abuse is common among male and female inmates in South Dakota prisons. Department of Social Services statistics show that in 2017, 87 percent of adult offenders were substance-dependent at the time of intake. However, more women are incarcerated for drug offenses than men -- 65 percent of female inmates versus 27 percent of males -- while more males are in prison for violent offenses than females: 47 percent to 14 percent respectively.

Lori Walsh

In the Moment ... April 19, 2018 Show 319 Hour 2

For perspective on some recent top headlines from the U.S. Supreme Court, we welcome Mike Thompson to the program. He's Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Sioux Falls.

Safety In Worship

Nov 20, 2017

In The Moment ... November 20, 2017 Show 224 Hour 1

In the wake of a massacre inside the walls of the First Baptist Church of Southerland Springs, Texas, Parishioners across the country are contemplating the security of sanctuaries. We’re joined by Pastor Emily Munger of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Pierre and Pastor Jesse Hailey of Elk Point Baptist Church.

Lori Walsh

In The Moment ... November 15, 2017 Show 221 Hour 1

As of yesterday, America has seen 317 mass shootings in 2017. In case you're keeping track, there were 483 in 2016. Today we talk about what’s changing (and what’s staying the same) in preventing and preparing for active shooters. Joining us is Lt. Jeff Garden with the Sioux Falls Police Department.

In The Moment ... October 4, 2017 Show 191 Hour 2

Tony Harrison returns from the national FOP conference with news from law enforcement agencies throughout the nation. We talk about the conference, what law enforcement officers are saying after the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

In The Moment ... October 2, 2017 Show 189 Hour 1

Lori Walsh

In The Moment ... April 12, 2017 Show 070 Hour

From bulbs to pruning, Julie Hoffman answers your Spring gardening questions. Hint: don’t clean out your flower beds too soon! Julie is with East River Nursery in Huron.

Lori Walsh

In The Moment ... March 16, 2017 Show 051 Hour 1

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Judges, attorneys, and law enforcement endorse a bill in South Dakota’s Statehouse that aims to ease mental health problems for people entering the justice system. House Bill 1183 is a measure that changes competency assessments, creates training for people who work in criminal justice, and encourages works that helps people avoid unnecessary arrests or extended time in jail.

In The Moment ... January 30 2017 Show 019 Hour 1

Guests: Tony Venhuizen, author of The Governor's of South Dakota; SDPB's Victoria Wicks, national seed swap day; Tong Wang, South Dakota State University extension specialist; Mike Thompson, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Sioux Falls

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard says he wants the legislature to update the state’s wiretapping laws.

The move is part of an overall attempt to address the state's methamphetamine epidemic. Daugaard says the update allows police to monitor drug trafficking.

Daugaard says right now law enforcement can use court orders to tap into landline phones.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota’s governor says he wants to fight methamphetamine by punishing bad behavior and reinforcing the good.

Governor Dennis Daugaard says he wants to offer incentives to beat addiction. He says he supports allowing offenders who complete court-ordered treatment in a year one opportunity to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor. Daugaard says he also supports mandatory jail time for people on probation or parole who fail drug tests.

Minnehaha County officials are implementing a new assessment that flags defendants who present a risk to the community. The effort is designed to help judges determine whether someone accused of crime should be released before trial. The process combines multiple factors but eliminates identifiers such as race, income, education, and family status.

The South Dakota Peace and Justice Center strives for social and economic justice through community education and grassroots empowerment. Center director Kristi McLaughlin joins Dakota Midday to talk about the center’s Ban the Box campaign. Its goal is to remove barriers to employment for people with criminal convictions. McLaughlin and Dakota Midday host Lori Walsh talk about the benefits and challenges of clearing the criminal record on job applications in South Dakota. 

A report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore shows states aren’t doing enough to support children after parent is sentenced to prison. The foundation is recommending policy reforms aimed at putting the needs of children first when judges and states make sentencing decisions.

Scot Spencer is with the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, a group that advocates for children considered at risk. The foundation wants more states to consider factors like distance and replacing suspended child support payments before sentencing a parent.  

The Helmsely Charitable Trust is giving the State Department of Health a $302,500 grant to fund a community justice and mental health early intervention taskforce. The project intends to evaluate how to better help people with mental health issues that end up in the criminal justice system.


South Dakota Chef Supreme Court Justice David Gilbertson is leading the taskforce. He says a study conducted last year found that South Dakota faces challenges in providing access to mental health care.


As President of the National Association of Attorneys General, Marty Jackley led a delegation of Attorneys General on a mission to Taiwan last week where they discussed criminal justice.  Jackley met with Taiwan President Ma-Ying-Jeou to discuss criminal justice, law enforcement and the economic partnership between the U.S. and Taiwan.  The delegation also met with the Hon.

Victoria Wicks

The American Indian population in Rapid City is about 12 percent, but Native people account for almost 60 percent of arrests. And because of societal factors such as poverty, homelessness, addiction, mental illness, and unemployment, Native people end up staying in jail when more fortunate people would be released. Tuesday SDPB’s Victoria Wicks sat in on a Native American Outreach meeting of officials in the process of applying for a MacArthur grant to fund solutions.


During a joint session of the House and Senate on Wednesday, South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson delivered his State of the Judiciary address. He said past proposals such as a program to attract attorneys to rural areas and an overhaul of the state's criminal justice system approved by lawmakers in 2013 are making a difference in South Dakota. Gilbertson said those changes have kept offenders out of prison and saved the state money.