Juvie Facility

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

into effect.

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.