PIERRE, S.D. — Prosecutors say a panel meant to evaluate the success of a 2013 public safety law in South Dakota needs to factor in the state’s growing methamphetamine problem.

The Public Safety Improvement Act is aimed at reducing incarcerations for nonviolent offenders, the Argus Leader reported . Prosecutors and law enforcement officials said Tuesday that the law’s Improvement Council should make revisions to better deal with meth users and traffickers.

The suggestions come in response to an increasing number of meth-related arrests across South Dakota in the last year. Minnehaha County data show arrests for meth possession, use and trafficking increased by more than 40 percent in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period the year before.

“I think we need to go back to the table and see what we need to do,” said Aaron McGowan, state’s attorney for the county. “We have to get a handle on this meth epidemic.”

Some officials encouraged tougher consequences for drug dealers and meth users who are arrested and later re-offend.

“We have to aggressively deal with those who are dealing this dangerous drug to our citizens. We have to have consequences if you’re on some level of probation or parole and you got right back to using that drug,” said Mike Milstead, the sheriff of Minnehaha County.

The council will consider whether a law change could help address the problem, said Laurie Feiler, the council’s chair and deputy secretary of the Department of Corrections.

“That was not really a variable when we were considering SB 70 (the law),” she said. “They’re complex problems, there’s not an easy solution to this.”


Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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