Obesity rates among very young children in low-income homes have fallen in 19 states and territories, including South Dakota, giving us great hope as America continues its fight against this epidemic.
For years, we have worried about obesity among our children. Anyone who thinks it's not a problem should simply look around - it doesn't take a sleuth to see that there are more obese kids today than there were three, four or five decades ago.
Although these most recent statistics refer to young children, ages 2 to 4, obesity is a problem for all childhood age groups. For example, in South Dakota, 32 percent of children 5 to 19 are overweight. Sixteen percent are considered obese.
Last year, the National School Lunch Program was revamped to provide healthier meals for students. At first blush, we liked those changes, but we learned later that the new meals were not providing enough bulk to properly fuel active kids' appetites. We've decided that the program needs tweaking, but at least consider it a good first step.
There is no immediate answer to the obesity epidemic, but we're headed in the right direction. As with many social problems, the first step is simply admitting that a problem exists, and these recent statistics - coupled with so many great awareness efforts - show that we recognize there is a problem.
- Mitchell Daily Republic
Monitors expand work release
Pennington County has between 60 and 70 non-violent offenders in its work-release program, where inmates work in the community during the day and return to jail at night. Thanks to a new monitoring system, some work-release inmates now will be able to spend their nights at home.
The county is the first in the state to use an electronic monitoring system that uses satellite technology to indicate an inmate's exact location 24 hours a day.
Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom hopes to be able to use more of the new ankle monitors in the county's work-release program. He sees it as a good alternative to incarceration.
The system saves corrections officers time by not having to call a job site to verify that an inmate is working. The monitors tell officers where the inmate is at all times.
Using the new monitors also will free up jail space and save the county money. The county jail has a capacity of 588 inmates and last week, there were 577 beds occupied. Each inmate costs the county $79 a day to keep in jail.
Besides punishment, the purpose of the state's criminal justice system is rehabilitation of offenders so they can return to society and not repeat their mistakes. The work-release program is a way to transition offenders into the community by allowing them to work at a job during the day and return to jail at night.
The important thing is to help offenders to successfully transition back into society. We are pleased to learn about the county's use of the new monitoring system that improves on its already successful work-release program.
- Rapid City Journal