Media Contact

Janna Farley,

January 30, 2019

The ACLU of South Dakota supports Senate Concurrent Resolution 7, which would create a task force to study and make legislative proposals regarding alternatives to incarceration for those convicted of the crime of ingestion of controlled substances.

South Dakota is the only state that imposes a felony for ingestion of a controlled substance. Reducing the penalty for ingestion of a controlled substance from a felony to a misdemeanor would save the state an estimated $50 million dollars in department of corrections expenses over 10 years, according to a Legislative Research Council’s prison and jail cost estimate in 2018.

The following statement can be attributed to Libby Skarin, ACLU of South Dakota’s policy director:

“Though drug use is undoubtedly a serious issue, we can’t incarcerate our way out of addiction. Assigning years in prison to those who have a drug present in their system is disproportionate and causes more harm than good to individuals struggling with addiction, their families and their communities.

“Instead of using an enormous amount of taxpayer funds to prosecute and incarcerate drug users, reclassifying ingestion as a misdemeanor and investing the resulting savings of state funds in diversion and treatment programs designed to combat addiction would go a long way in helping to solve the underlying problems leading to drug abuse.”

About the ACLU of South Dakota

Decisions made during the annual sessions of the South Dakota Legislature have a deep and lasting impact on our state’s people and communities. As new laws are created and others repealed or written, it’s important to ensure that these changes preserve and strengthen our constitutional rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection, and privacy are fundamental to a free people. In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBT communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for people of South Dakota.

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