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A job, a house and alcohol treatment would help many criminals straighten out their lives, and government needs to help provide those things, some members of a South Dakota group seeking ways to ease prison crowding say.

One subcommittee of the study group went so far as to briefly consider a temporary increase in the state sales tax. “A penny for the pen,” Circuit Judge Max Gors of Pierre called it.

The tax increase was one of dozens of ideas tossed out in a free-wheeling subcommittee session, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. The fact that it was even discussed illustrated how far members of the group created by Gov. Mike Rounds were willing to go to meet the governor’s assignment to find ways to reverse the trend of increasing inmate numbers.

The state’s prison population increased 97 percent from 1990 to 2000, while the overall population of South Dakota grew 8.5 percent.

Link: http://www.argusleader.com/news/Wednesdayarticle3.shtml

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