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With barely 20% of court-ordered restitution being paid in South Dakota, some experts wonder if requiring criminals to pay victims money they do not have is doing more harm than good for both sides of the equation.
Corrections officials say the atmosphere at the Women's Prison in Pierre is more relaxed than at the men's prisons. Eighty-five percent of the inmates are sentenced for non-violent crimes, usually drug-related offenses. The average stay is about eight months.
The number of women in prison in South Dakota has grown 35 percent over the past five years. Most are serving sentences for drug crimes and some say addiction treatment rather than incarceration would be more effective in changing behaviors.