The statistics told the story. When South Dakota government leaders read them, they knew there was a big problem. Here the state was ranking 46th in population, yet holding the dubious honor of having the second-highest commitment rate in the United States—385 per 100,000 youth.
Was this high rate because more juveniles were being arrested for violent crimes than in other states? No, the state’s arrest rate was one‐third the national average in 2011. Locking up all these kids was a very expensive proposition. The state put the figure at 41,000 to $144,000 annually for each commitment. On top of that, after being released, 45 percent of the youth were back in confinement within three years.