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The state of South Dakota received a 1.75 million grant to help reduce the number of women prison inmates from Pennington County. 

Journal file

The South Dakota Department of Corrections has received a $1.75 million federal grant for a program that will offer female offenders from Pennington County an alternative to prison.

Administered over three years by the Department of Justice, the grant is expected to benefit as many as 144 women. The state Department of Corrections made the announcement in a news release Thursday afternoon.

“The preference is for those admitted to the program to be probationers or probation violators needing an intensive intervention as an alternative to prison,” Corrections Secretary Denny Kaemingk said in a written statement. “If space allows, parole violators could also be placed in the program.”

The program is targeting Pennington County’s female offenders, since they make up a quarter of the state’s female prison population. This figure is the most from any county in South Dakota, the corrections department said.

According to the release, the grant will provide funding for expenses such as housing assistance, case management and alcohol monitoring.

The program specifics, including its content and eligibility criteria, will be determined in the next six months, said department spokesperson Michael Winder.

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South Dakota formally received the grant Oct. 1, and the program’s first planning meeting was held last week, Winder said.

The state court welcomed news of the grant.

“Having available to us in the court system the additional program options to be funded through this grant will increase public safety, reduce the prison population, particularly those who struggle with substance abuse,” Presiding Judge Craig Pfeifle, of the Seventh Circuit Court, said in a written statement.

The Seventh Circuit Court encompasses Pennington County. South Dakota is one of four states to be awarded the grant, the Department of Corrections said.

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Rapid City Journal