With South Dakota's meth epidemic, jail and prison crowding is becoming a serious issue. That's one of the reasons why our criminal justice system uses different kinds of sentences.
Here's a look at a few of the recent high-profile cases.
"You have to think that God was there that day," Harrisburg graduate Connor McAllister said.
Harrisburg High School made national news in 2015 when a student shot and injured the school's principal. That student, Mason Buhl, pleaded guilty to attempted murder, but he hasn't served any time behind bars. Instead, the judge put him on probation for 15 years, along with a mental health treatment program.
"Justice was not served. Justice was not served by any matter of it. Not at all," Shannon DeVaney said.
DeVaney was not happy when the man charged with killing her sister walked out of a Minnehaha County courthouse a free man. 26 years after Kimberly Eidness died, authorities arrested her boyfriend Kim Aune for the murder that was made to look like suicide. He pleaded no contest to second degree manslaughter
and received just a ten year suspended sentence.
"It's devastating. He's free, and I still suffer. My family still suffers. My mom lost her life, and he's free doing whatever he wants," Eidness' daughter Liza Hennings said.
Then there are the cases where criminals serve some time but have a portion of it suspended. For example, 17-year-old Wilson Hughes
admitted to punching and kicking another teen to death in Sioux Falls last year. A judge sentenced him to 50 years in prison with 20 years suspended. In that case, the family was pleased with the sentence.
"Justice has been served for my son, and now he can rest in peace," the victim's mother, Amiee Strauser, said.
As you can tell, not all of the victim's families are okay with suspended sentences.
Tonight on KELOLAND News at 10 p.m. you'll hear from a Sioux Falls family who worries that the man suspected in their son's death won't spend any time behind bars.
You'll also hear from a local state's attorney about why suspended sentences are needed in some situations and how our prisons are dealing with overcrowding.
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