Tapio: Halt Star Academy Sale

A group of lawmakers today renewed calls for a delay the sale of Star Academy until a further review of the juvenile justice program in South Dakota and the increased meth usage among South Dakota children can be undertaken.

The group of legislators have reached out to their local school
superintendence, sheriffs and state’s attorneys and have determined that the current juvenile justice program lack adequate teeth and it appears there is consensus of the stakeholders in calling for a complete review of the juvenile justice program and the changes undertaken in senate bill 70 and 73.

Sen. Neal Tapio, R-Watertown, renewed his call for governor Dugard to stop the proposed action of the star academy and allow public hearings detailing the failures of senate bill 70 and 73.

“We’ve spoken with dozens of sheriffs, states attorneys and school superintendents, and a nearly all of them have indicated precious changes made to the juvenile justice system have taken the teeth out of the juvenile justice. Reducing punishments to a slap on the rest has failed as many had predicted.”

While the legislators applauded efforts to reduce costs in the name fiscal responsibility, ongoing efforts have fallen short of promises and expectations.

State representative Julie Frye-Mueller republican of Rapid City agreed, “ The current system has reduced punishment to a slap on the wrist and simply returns kids back to the same environment that caused problems in the first place. This policy is harming the school environment and puts other kids in danger. Within the last week I have spoken with several school superintendents and many offered their concerns.

Yeh legislators called for a complete top to bottom review of the juvenile justice system and called for a zero tolerance policy based on a stronger criminal justice penalties and voluntary admission to a life skills and life purpose rehabilitation center.

Many state’s attorneys have told me the current system allows kids to blow positive for meth after the initial arrest with no ramifications. We need to have a zero tolerance policy for drug usage and behavioral issue.

“I would like to see a new type of program that offers a purpose driven programming that would be volunteer focused and charity based. We need to teach life skills which emphasizes structure and the importance of work. We can take advantage of advances in homeschooling curriculum.