How does South Dakota deal with inmate mental health?

SD's oversight council for mental health in the criminal justice system highlighted growth in reforms to the state's response to gaps...

South Dakota’s oversight council for mental health in the criminal justice system Monday in Pierre highlighted growth in reforms to the state’s response to persisting gaps in inmate mental health.

That includes law enforcement training, but not with some uncertainties and avenues to continue to work on.

Here are the top five takeaways from this week’s meeting:

1. New changes in laws to dismiss cases for mentally incompetent criminals are helping free up court dockets

Amendments to Senate Bill 173 allows judges to dismiss cases for criminals with severe cognitive disabilities, when it is determined the defendant is not mentally competent to proceed in a trial. The change in law has helped with addressing a population of criminals not capable of being restored because of neurocognitive issues, said Minnehaha County public defender Betsy Doyle during the meeting.

Doyle says the two cases she’s worked on that have been dismissed using the modified law were “pretty severe,” most of them involving sexual charges with minors.

“… We are using that modified law in this area and we are receiving dismissals for criminal charges,” said Doyle. “The benefit obviously is it’s not clogging up the docket of the court for a person who’s never going to be competent.”

Read the full story at the Argus Leader.