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Outbreak Breakout: Nine Women Run from Pierre Prison; Warden Departs Next Day

Governor Kristi Noem said Monday that we all should implement social distancing measures. O.K., said nine Pierre inmates:

The breakout at the Pierre Community Work Center took place around 8:43 p.m. on Monday, according to South Dakota Department of Corrections officials. Three of the escapees were captured Tuesday on the nearby Crow Creek Indian Reservation and one was caught in Rapid City, about 170 miles west of Pierre, officials said.

South Dakota Gov. Kristie Noem told reporters that the inmate captured in Rapid City is being tested for coronavirus.

…The prisoners left the facility on the same day officials announced that an inmate at the Pierre Community Work Center had tested positive for coronavirus. The infected inmate, the first in the South Dakota prison system to test positive for the virus, was immediately placed in isolation to protect other inmates, officials said [Bill Hutchinson, “9 Inmates Bolt from South Dakota Prison on Same Day a Prisoner Tested Positive for Coronavirus,” ABC News, 2020.03.25].

The state originally announced only eight escapees, but Governor Noem gave the recount of nine Tuesday morning. One was caught pretty quickly in Rapid City. The Department of Corrections announced last night that it had recaptured seven of the nine escapees.

As of Wednesday night, Philomene Boneshirt (top row, #3) and Sylvia Red Leaf (bottom row, #4) were still on the lam.
As of Wednesday night, Philomene Boneshirt (top row, #3) and Sylvia Red Leaf (bottom row, #4) were still on the lam.

Also escaping the women’s prison is Warden Wanda Markland, who resigned Tuesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union recommends that, to protect inmates from the coronavirus, governors “grant commutations to anyone identified by the CDC as particularly vulnerable whose sentence would end in the next two years, to anyone whose sentence would end in the next year, and to anyone currently being held on a technical (crimeless) supervision violation.” The ACLU does not recommend that prisoner self-commute.

8 Comments

  1. Curt 2020-03-26

    I suppose it would be best for DOC staff not to “work from home.”

  2. Mark 2020-03-26

    What slaps you in the face with this article is that 7 of the 8 women listed
    are Native American.
    South Dakota locks up people at about double the national average.
    Mostly for non violent crimes and mostly because they are not white,
    Christian Conservatives.
    The SDGOP is a sick organization.
    The cure is to vote the bastards out.

  3. jerry 2020-03-26

    These are such minor offences to be imprisoned for that their sentencing should be criminal. What I see is an expensive, taxpayer funded boondoggle. Send these women home and have them do a 24/7 program that is administrated by the tribes of their jurisdiction. Pay the tribes for the service and monitoring with a tenth of the cost of running this failure and let this nonsense end.

    The Covid 9 and the warden, show the complete failure of a racist penal punish.

  4. Debbo 2020-03-26

    What Jerry said.

    And Mark is right.

    “Self-commute” one’s sentence? 🤣🤣🤣

  5. Fairburn 2020-03-26

    With COVID19 coming any prison sentence can quickly become the death penalty. I agree that minor offenses and nonviolent offenses should be looked at immediately for release. But many folks in SD seem to be slow to react to the “tsunami” that is cresting and nearly on our beach.

  6. denny 2020-03-27

    White guys walk away from minimum security facilities occasionally in Rapid City without their mugshots plastered all across the state. But when Native Americans flee the COVID-19 plague, they are demonized and hunted down with a vengeance.

    A male warden was praised by the then-South Dakota Governor and allowed to retire with full benefits even after a prison guard was murdered under his watch. Yet a female warded is told to resign immediately after inmates at a minimum security prison flee the COVID-19 plague.

  7. Debbo 2020-03-27

    Excellent points Denny.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-03-28

    That’s strange, Denny. I thought we elected a female Governor to demonstrate South Dakota’s progressive thinking on gender equality. Where’s the revolution?

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