Changes for SD State Penitentiary staff on Nov. 9 lead to increased discomfort and safety concerns

SIOUX FALLS, SD (Dakota News Now) – While many South Dakotans turned a blind eye to Tuesday’s election, correctional officers at the South Dakota State Prison in Sioux Falls are looking ahead to another day of change at work. .

The main change is going from 12-hour shifts to 8-hour shifts, but that’s not a trade-off, according to some corrections officers. Staffing shortages persist and put pressure on everyone who works or lives in a correctional facility.

When the metal bars close at the main entrance, security is a concern for everyone, including the inmates. In addition, officer cuts are so troubling to a criminal that he took the risk of being punished for calling us.

The institution itself is truly out of control. The situation is getting worse. I think they need to get it under control before it gets more out of control where they really can’t handle it,” the inmate said.

Representative Sean Bordeaux, who sits on the Legislative Reforms Committee, asks:

“Why is there all this chaos? It seems like we are an unfair workplace,” Bordo said.

Correctional officers tell our I-Team that they may be assigned to 8-hour shifts, but are sometimes willing to work longer hours.

“Whether it’s 12 o’clock to eight or vice versa, you know, our employees need to know what to expect when they go to work,” Bordo said.

In July 2021, we were told that the correctional facility was down 51 employees; Meanwhile, Governor Noem visited the facility.

“The staff is exhausted and a lot is being asked of the staff,” Gov. Noem told the media after a tour and talks at the correctional facility.

Today, more than 100 positions are vacant, and one of our sources says the current schedule reflects about 50 fewer positions. Many posts have been reduced from two to one in recent months.

During a visit to the correctional facility in July 2021, Governor Noem acknowledged that change was needed.

“They deserve to have more flexibility with their families,” Governor Noem said.

The new 8-hour shifts were assigned by date of last change of position rather than by seniority through a bidding process. As a result, some correctional officers have lost their day shift and are forced to work weekends again, losing time with their families.

On Thursday, a correctional officer told us: “Today was so bad, the inmates didn’t have any rest because there weren’t enough staff and the church was closed in the afternoon. In the past, the inmates had 2 hours of rest every day. Now they get every day. once, for 1 hour.

Most of us have given up trying to fix the problems with the prison because the superintendent was told by the new corrections secretary that he is no longer allowed to discuss prison matters with staff other than those directly under him.

When someone sends an administrative email, they don’t respond. We have been told to resolve all our issues through the chain of command, but this is completely useless as we are not getting a response either. I’m sure the new corrections secretary is smarter than most and no one gets hurt.

There are claims that the vacancy rate will improve after November 9, with job cuts.

“A staffing review was conducted with facility management to ensure that allocated positions are effectively distributed throughout the facility. No positions are “removed”.

The facility will begin transitioning to 8-hour shifts on November 9. Following a tender process, the posts were given to the employees.” Michael Winder, DOC Information Officer

We also asked why this change is happening a day after the election and was told that it is a coincidence and November 9 is the start of the new salary payment period.

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