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Corrections Vacancies Level Off; Turnover Still High, Applicants Down

Governor Kristi Noem has flattened the curve of vacancies in the Department of Corrections. According to DOC officials speaking to the Joint Appropriations Committee in Pierre yesterday, open jobs in South Dakota’s prison system have leveled off after climbing from around 50 in March 2021 to around 125 in October and November:

SD Department of Corrections, presentation to Joint Appropriations Committee, FY2023 Budget Hearing, 2022.01.06, slide 12.
SD Department of Corrections, presentation to Joint Appropriations Committee, FY2023 Budget Hearing, 2022.01.06, slide 12.

Vacancies climbed right through Noem’s purge of Corrections in July. The Governor has announced various pay increases (including a revision of holiday pay policy which she delayed until late last month and thus would not be reflected in the above trend). But part of the vacancy problem comes from the fact that DOC has been trying to increase its total staff throughout the Noem Administration:

DOC to Approps, 2022.01.06, Slide 13.
DOC to Approps, 2022.01.06, Slide 13.

Even with Noem’s efforts, turnover in DOC has increased over the last two fiscal years, and DOC is getting fewer applicants for guard posts at its three big prisons:

DOC to Approps, 2022.01.16, Slide 14.
DOC to Approps, 2022.01.16, Slide 14.

The Legislature has bills to build a new community work center for Corrections in Rapid City (Senate Bill 32) and improve health care facilities at the women’s prison in Pierre (Senate Bill 33). Neither the Governor nor legislators have submitted any bills to make permanent changes in pay, benefits, or working conditions for prison staff.

2 Comments

  1. John 2022-01-07

    Good work. Consider ‘running the numbers’ i.e., need, if SD’s incarceration rate was that of similarly sized ND’s rate.
    A back of the envelope calculation suggests 1/3 less wasteful spending on corrections since the ND incarceration rate is about 1/3 that of SD’s rate.
    Yes, SD has a prosecutorial-policing-prison-legislative industrial complex.

  2. Richard Schriever 2022-01-07

    Marijuana legalization and the commutation of current sentences imposed for related activities to same will bring SDs prison pop in line with NDs. Nationwide about 15% of people in prison are there for marijuana related charges – 92% of which are simple possession. We know SD imprisons a higher proportion of its population overall to most states.

    In reading the monthly police report for Lennox, SD, in the local paper, all but one arrest made (of 7) was for marijuana possession.

    More;

    https://cannabisoffers.net/marijuana-prison-statistics/

    https://www.aclu.org/gallery/marijuana-arrests-numbers

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