Mental Health, Criminal Justice Task Force Proposes Changes

A group that has studied issues surrounding mentally ill people entering the criminal justice system in South Dakota is proposing a series of changes in an effort to improve the treatment of those individuals.
The state-appointed task force on Monday released its final report with several recommendations, including the use of telehealth for competency evaluations and the requirement that such exams be completed within 21 days of a court order.
State Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson announced the formation of the 22-member task force last year after The Argus Leader reported that a backlog of mental competency evaluations of criminal suspects is taxing county budgets and raising concerns about the rights of defendants.
Gilbertson says the existing system “became unmanageable” and costly.