State officials continue to refine efforts to reduce drug use and fight
addiction. Nick Lowrey with South Dakota News Watch has the story.
Over the past decade, South Dakota saw a significant increase in the
number of juveniles arrested for drug crimes, and officials see few signs
that the arrests will fall anytime soon despite recent reforms of the state
juvenile justice system.
According to state crime data, the number of youths arrested on drug
charges such as possession, use and distribution nearly doubled from
579 in 2008 to 1,043 in 2012. Since 2012, the number of juvenile arrests
for drug crimes hasn’t fallen below 948. The number peaked at 1,062 in
2015, the same year a set of sweeping new juvenile justice reforms went
State officials are uncertain whether the upward trend in arrests means
that more young people are actually using drugs, if more are being
caught due to increased enforcement, or whether the juvenile justice
system reforms of 2015 that sought to keep juveniles out of jail has
inadvertently led to a higher re-offense rate by some juvenile drug users.
The number of juveniles arrested for all other crimes not related to drugs
has fallen across the state in recent years.