Arrests in South Dakota have increased for the eighth year in a row, according to newly released data from the state.
The Office of Attorney General on Tuesday released its annual statewide crime data report for 2018, which shows that arrests in 2018 topped 45,000. The number was an increase of nearly 900 from 2017.
The report's data shows a continuing trend of increasing arrests in the state every year since 2010. Since then, the rate of arrests has jumped by nearly 42 percent, from 31,801 in 2010 to 45,142 in 2018.
In those eight years, South Dakota's population has grown by only 8.3 percent, from approximately 814,000 in 2010 to 882,000.
Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said in the office's news release that the numbers "reinforce, once again, that South Dakota remains a safe place to live thanks to strong community involvement and the vigilant efforts of law enforcement."
Drug and narcotic offenses made up the largest portion — 18 percent — of the state's total arrests, at 8,205. Since 2010, the number of drug arrests in the state has shot up 148 percent, from 3,315.
Following the report's release, Policy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota (ACLU-SD) Libby Skarin said in a news release, "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," Skarin said.
South Dakota is the only state in the country that imposes felony charges for ingestion of a controlled substance. Though it's not clear from the report how many drug arrests were made on ingestion charges, it does report the number of total ingestion offenses recorded by law enforcement throughout the state (not every offense results in an arrest).
Out of 10,009 total drug and narcotic offenses reported, 2,619 were for "using or consuming." The majority of drug and narcotic offenses were for possession: 6,807. Distribution and sales of drugs made up 406 of the offenses.
The study did not specify what controlled substances were involved in the arrests and offenses.
ACLU-SD said in Tuesday's release that reclassifying drug ingestion as a misdemeanor would save the state dollars currently spent to prosecute and imprison offenders, which could go toward treatment and prevention programs.
The Legislature voted this session to conduct an interim study on the state's controlled substance laws this summer. The 15-person study will study the current laws' impact on the state's budget, law enforcement, judicial system and citizens.
According to the report, other common "serious offense" arrests were for assault, theft and fraud.
Assault arrests have increased every year since 2013, from 4,249 to 5,471 in 2018. Fraud arrests have been on the rise as well, from 321 in 2012 to 800 in 2018.
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In an opposite trend, larceny and theft arrests have been steadily decreasing. Since a peak in 2014 at 3,420, the number has gone down to 1,643 in 2018.
In 2018, 11 were arrested for first- or second-degree murder, 80 for sex offenses, 41 for forcible rape, 56 for kidnapping, 74 for robbery, 306 for burglary, 576 for vandalism or destruction of property, and 6,087 for driving under the influence.
More than 5,000 juvenile arrests were made, most often on charges of drug violations and assault.
Populations of offenders
The state in total made 20,675 arrests in 2018. The majority were of males: 69 percent compared to 30.1 percent female. The most common reason for arrest of both males and females were for drug violations.
White offenders made up the largest portion of those arrested, based on race at 50.1 percent, but the percentage was significantly lower than the total white population of South Dakota, which is 84.9 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
More than 30 percent of those arrested were American Indian, though American Indians only compose 9 percent of the state's population.
Approximately 8 percent of those arrested were black, compared to 2.1 percent of the state's population, and 4.7 percent were Hispanic or Latino, compared to 3.8 percent of the total.
The age range most often arrested was 20- to 24-year-olds, followed by 25- to 29-year-olds, then juveniles.
Populations of victims
According to the report, females and males were victims of crimes at similar rates: 49.2 percent of victims were female, and 49.9 percent male.
But the types of crimes that females were victim to were different. Women were raped, kidnapped, fondled and intimidated at significantly higher rates than males. 480 women were raped compared to 10 males; 112 kidnapped or abducted compared to 28; 297 fondled compared to 79; and 976 intimidated compared to 575.
Males, alternatively, were more likely to have their property stolen or damaged. More than 1,300 males were burglarized, 1,150 had items stolen from their cars, and more than 2,000 had property damaged or vandalized.
The majority of victims were white: 69.6 percent. South Dakota's population is also majority-white. The next-highest population of victims by race was American Indian, at 15.2 percent.
The Attorney General's Office concluded that there were no hate crimes committed on the basis of religion, disability or gender. Five hate crimes, ranging from simple assault to vandalism and burglary, were committed based on the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity.
Anti-black hate crimes made up the largest portion of hate crimes based on the victim's race, at 10. The report said seven hate crimes were anti-white, three anti-American Indian and two anti-Hispanic.
The age ranges most likely to be victimized were those over 60, then 25- to 29-year-olds and 20- to 24-year-olds.