The site selected for the new South Dakota State Penitentiary in Lincoln County. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Landowners sue to put prison site in front of county zoning board

BY: - November 6, 2023

The state should ask for Lincoln County’s permission before building a new prison there, according to a lawsuit from a group of landowners. The lawsuit was filed in Lincoln County late last week by a recently formed group called “Neighbors Opposed to Prison Expansion” — or the acronym NOPE for short — as well as […]

A personalized license plate requested and eventually approved for South Dakota resident Lynn Hart. (Courtesy of Lynn Hart)

ACLU sues state over ‘REZWEED’ vanity license plate

BY: - November 6, 2023

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota wants a judge to stop the state from saying no to vanity license plates over “poor taste.” The nonprofit filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court in South Dakota on behalf of a client named Lynn Hart, who’d asked for and been denied a vanity plate that […]

A mural painted on the side of a boarded up apartment complex in Eagle Butte depicts an infant holding the hand of an elder. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota)

South Dakota inspired ICWA but still has high rate of Native children in foster care

BY: and - November 6, 2023

Cheryl Spider DeCoteau was nervous. It was the Sisseton Wahpeton tribal citizen’s first time in Washington, D.C., and she sat in front of two senators, multiple congressional aides, lawyers and clerks in a large, wood-paneled committee room, bright lights shining down. Two of the 23-year-old’s sons, ages 5 and 3, sat in the audience while […]

Jessica Eagle Star helps her son Noran across the monkey bars at the park in Winner on Aug. 29, 2023. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

The Lost Children: Overrepresentation of Native American children in the SD foster care system

BY: and - November 6, 2023

South Dakota officials have known Native American children are overrepresented in the foster care system for nearly 50 years. The Indian Child Welfare Act, a 1978 federal law, was meant to tackle the problem not just in the state but across the country at a time when Native children were regularly removed from their families. […]

The minimum security center of the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, pictured on Feb. 16, 2023. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Noem issues 40 more pardons since April

BY: - November 3, 2023

Gov. Kristi Noem has issued 40 pardons since April, according to records on file with the Secretary of State’s Office. The pardons bring the total number issued by Gov. Noem since the start of her first term to 268. The Board of Pardons and Paroles offers recommendations on pardons to the governor, but South Dakota’s […]

An equal justice statue sits outside the doors of the Minnehaha County Courthouse in Sioux Falls. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Task force: Young adults up to 25 need special attention from courts, corrections

BY: - November 2, 2023

People between 18 and 25 years old are more likely to commit crimes, get arrested and lose momentum in their emerging adult lives as a result. Early intervention and structured support can help keep them out of the justice system altogether. At least that’s what criminal justice research suggests. Juvenile justice report: More delinquent kids […]

The exterior of the Minnehaha County Juvenile Detention Center, pictured on Oct. 21, 2022. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Juvenile justice report: More delinquent kids taken to court

BY: - November 1, 2023

South Dakota prosecutors filed more juvenile delinquency petitions in fiscal year 2023 than at any time in nearly a decade, according to an annual report presented Wednesday to a state committee. The report came during the fall meeting of the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Oversight Council, which is a group of representatives from law enforcement, schools, […]

Governor Kristi Noem signs a bill into law that bans transgender women from playing in women's sports during the end of the 2022 legislative session. (Courtesy of Governor's Office)

Governors risk NCAA ramifications with opposition to transgender policy, scholar says

BY: - November 1, 2023

Governors criticizing an NCAA policy on transgender student athletes may put their universities at risk of “penalties or ramifications” if those institutions disobey the policy, according to a sports law scholar.  Joshua Lens is an assistant professor of recreation and sport management at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, who wrote an article on NCAA transgender […]

University of South Dakota Law School Dean Neil Fulton speaks to students. (Courtesy of USD)

Law school dean to lawmakers: More students admitted, bar exam scores best neighboring states

BY: - October 31, 2023

The University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law saw its largest incoming class in over a decade this fall, according to a report prepared for lawmakers by Dean Neil Fulton. The 88 students in the class of 2026 is a reflection of the school’s “investment in admissions personnel and resources,” Fulton wrote in his […]

The site selected for the new South Dakota State Penitentiary in Lincoln County. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Tough to evaluate other penitentiary location options without transparency

BY: - October 31, 2023

South Dakota is finally moving forward on the long overdue replacement of its men’s penitentiary near downtown Sioux Falls. It announced a new site and a timeline for the move. However, the process for selecting a replacement site has raised questions and concerns from the public. In recent decades, downtown Sioux Falls has grown into […]

Damien Weets, right, testifies before the Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Training Commission on Oct. 25, 2023 in Sioux Falls. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

State panel suspends Brookings police officer for slamming man against wall

BY: - October 25, 2023

SIOUX FALLS — A Brookings police officer will be suspended for a year after throwing an intoxicated man against a wall without warning when the man insulted him. Damian Weets, a 12-year police veteran in Brookings, will be eligible for recertification as a South Dakota law enforcement officer in a year, provided he undergoes a […]

A sign is posted in front of Meta headquarters on April 28, 2022, in Menlo Park, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

State joins lawsuit accusing Meta of fueling children’s social media addiction

BY: and - October 24, 2023

South Dakota has joined 32 other states in a federal lawsuit that accuses Meta of designing Facebook and Instagram to intentionally addict children and teens, in violation of state and federal laws that protect consumers and children’s online privacy. The states say that Meta knew its platforms psychologically harmed youth but hid those harms and […]