Dealing With Fourth Of July Crime

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – An increase in crime and long holiday weekends typically go hand in hand. The day following the Fourth of July can be tiresome for those who have to deal with an overflow of jail inmates. But the Minnehaha County State Attorney’s Office and the Jail had two different experiences this year.

Minnehaha County booked 300 new inmates over the weekend, 86 of them made their first appearance in court Wednesday.

“It’s an extremely busy place, very fast paced work environment right now,” says Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan.

McGowan says they had to open up extra court rooms to accommodate the influx of inmates.

“We took all the in-custody arrests from Friday, Saturday and Sunday and put those in a special appearance session,” he explains. “We split up the misdemeanors and felonies from the rest of the weekend and put them in two separate court rooms.”

But the county’s jail division was more pleasantly surprised with the amount of holiday crime.

“It turned out to be more of an average type weekend,” says Lt. Mike Mattson with the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office Jail Division.

Mattson says they were prepared for all 400 of their beds to be occupied, and then some.

“We did have a plan where we would add some additional beds to some of our existing housing units to raise the capacity of those units,” says Mattson.

But it never got to that point. After the holiday, there are currently 390 inmates at the jail.

“For the weekends where we luck out, I’ll take them,” says Mattson.

Not all inmates that are booked stay overnight, McGowan says, “some of the booking in jail will be a PR bond where they’re released, some will pay the bond to get released.”

This helps with overcrowding issues at the jail, but it doesn’t have the same effect on the state’s attorney’s office.

“We get all the arrests either way, whether they are in custody or not,” says McGowan. “We have to have our paperwork filed in the morning to get on the 1:30 docket. There’s a lot of urgency to get through all of the arrest reports formalized and do a criminal complaint.”

McGowan says the state’s attorney’s office has been trying to keep up with an increased caseload for months now. He says hiring extra staff would significantly help with the problem, however the county has little money to do so. Commissioners will be preparing a draft budget at the end of July.

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