A series of juvenile justice reforms have been implemented in South Dakota over the past decade, and officials say the efforts have reduced the number of youths sent to locked facilities, lowered recidivism and kept more young offenders out of the adult justice system. But data show that youths of color, including Native Americans and Black youths who make up the majority of the youth offender population in South Dakota, are not benefitting as much as white juvenile offenders.
Gov. Kristi Noem has proposed a series of reforms to increase and improve state oversight of privately run youth treatment homes, including hiring of more inspectors and requiring the first-ever unannounced inspections. Noem's recommendations came after a South Dakota News Watch investigation into abuse of residents and lax state oversight of the Aurora Plains Academy youth home in Plankinton, S.D.
Two mothers whose children suffered physical abuse at Aurora Plains Academy question Aurora County State's Attorney John R. Steele's longtime legal relationship with the facility. Steele is the registered South Dakota agent for the intensive youth treatment facility.
In response to a South Dakota News Watch investigation into abuse of youths at the Aurora Plains Academy in Plankinton, S.D., Gov. Kristi Noem has ordered state agencies to reform the processes of licensing and inspection of all private youth treatment facilities across the state.
A South Dakota News Watch investigation based on first-hand accounts, public records and independent reviews of injuries has uncovered a decade-long pattern of physical, mental and sexual abuse of residents at the privately run Aurora Plains Academy in Plankinton, S.D.
Past experiences still haunt those who spent time behind the fences of Aurora Plains Academy in Plankinton, S.D., a privately run youth treatment facility that has a history of abusing residents.
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