South Dakota profile
South Dakota has an incarceration rate of 824 per 100,000 people (including prisons, jails, immigration detention, and juvenile justice facilities), meaning that it locks up a higher percentage of its people than any democracy on earth. Read on to learn more about who is incarcerated in South Dakota and why.
7,300 people from South Dakota are behind bars
Additionally, the number of people impacted by county and city jails in South Dakota is much larger than the graph above would suggest, because people cycle through local jails relatively quickly. Each year, at least 25,000 different people are booked into local jails in South Dakota.
Rates of imprisonment have grown dramatically in the last 40 years
Also see these South Dakota graphs:
Today, South Dakota’s incarceration rates stand out internationally
In the U.S., incarceration extends beyond prisons and local jails to include other systems of confinement. The U.S. and state incarceration rates in this graph include people held by these other parts of the justice system, so they may be slightly higher than the commonly reported incarceration rates that only include prisons and jails. Details on the data are available in States of Incarceration: The Global Context. We also have a version of this graph focusing on the incarceration of women.
People of color are overrepresented in prisons and jails
See also our detailed graphs about Whites,
and American Indians/Native Americans
in South Dakota prisons and jails.
South Dakota's criminal justice system is more than just its prisons and jails
The high cost of being incarcerated in South Dakota
Prisons and jails in South Dakota are increasingly shifting the cost of incarceration to people behind bars and their families, hiding the true economic costs of mass incarceration:
Our other articles about South Dakota
Data on COVID-19 in South Dakota jails and prisons
We gave South Dakota a failing grade in September 2021 for its response to the coronavirus in prisons, noting that:
- South Dakota is one of 13 states that did not implement any policies to accelerate releases, promote medical parole or compassionate release, prevent incarceration for technical violations of probation and parole, or hasten releases for people incarcerated on minor offenses.
- South Dakota was one of 15 prison systems that did not have a policy making hand sanitizer widely available or providing free hygiene products — like soap — to incarcerated people.
For more detail, see our report States of Emergency.