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Yankton Sioux Guard at Springfield Prison Complains of Racist Harassment, Gets Pink Slip But No Response from Governor

All that studying and consulting the Governor had us pay for didn’t come fast enough to stop another complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about mistreatment of staff in the Department of Corrections. Beth Warden reports that former Springfield prison guard Dallas Tronvold, a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, alleges racist harassment from a supervisor and other prison staff:

“I was called a prairie ***** by a supervisor,” said Tronvold. “A female officer stated, well, when do you guys get your Indian money?”

Tronvold says he was not in the favored group and became a target. While leaving at the end of his shift, he said other staff kept him against his will between two prison gates.

“I asked the sergeant why the gate was shut, and he stated to me, ‘you ain’t going anywhere.’ I filed a report with the Bon Homme County Sheriff and nothing was investigated or done [Beth Warden, “US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Investigates Racial Discrimination at SD Prison,” KSFY, 2022.04.15].

Tronvold tried to move his complaint up the chain around the time Kellie Wasko took over as Secretary of Corrections last month. Secretary Wasko disclaims detailed knowledge of the complaint (“I came in right as it was transpiring,” Wasko says on camera, “so I couldn’t even speak the truths of in-depth knowledge”), even though Tronvold says he has emailed the Secretary, the Bureau of Human Resources, and Governor Kristi Noem herself to describe the racism he experienced as well as sexual misconduct by other guards with inmates.

The Governor appears to be getting on Tronvold’s complaints the same way she got On Meth™ a couple years ago:

In addition to the allegation of staff and inmates having sex, he also offered which cameras caught the activity, so that his claims could be verified.

Noem did not respond.

“I mean, I figured she would correct these situations and she didn’t. She never did anything,” said Tronvold [Warden, 2022.04.15].

Boy, if Tronvold had complained that his superiors were trying to teach him critical race theory (and watch out: Noem’s consultants did sneak into their report a recommendation for “cultural diversity training that addresses the specific cultural chracteristics of the Indigenous American population“), Governor Noem would have tweeted and Foxed his complaint faster than … but bring up concerns about racism, and Noem has nothing to say. if anything, Noem and Wasko will probably tell Tronvold there isn’t really any racism in South Dakota’s prisons but that he just perceives it.

Tronvold says the Department has fired him for “creating a hostile work environment and using an improper flashlight.” If the EEOC finds DOC actually retaliated against Tronvold for reporting harassment, the DOC could face its second employment discrimination lawsuit this year.

Governor Noem was supposedly cleaning house last summer when complaints arose about bad conditions in South Dakota’s prisons. But we now have two fired corrections staff saying the state is simply clearing out staff who complain.

12 Comments

  1. AmyB 2022-04-17

    Is anyone really surprised that the governor has done nothing? She talks a lot but has very weak follow through unless it benefits her, her family or her new “circle of friends”. And by now we all know if anything racist happens, she gets a case of laryngitis.

  2. Nick Nemec 2022-04-17

    Inmate/guard sex caught on camera? That certainly bears looking into.

  3. cibvet 2022-04-17

    The EEOC will rule and then a lawsuit will follow after which the tax payer will again
    be on the hook for yearly republican corruption.

  4. All Mammal 2022-04-17

    No justice-no peace. Even for CO’s and convicts. Our state, aka the republican SS has some sort of Men In Black memory eraser when it comes to corruption and racism and rape.
    What happened with the CO multiple women accused of rape and consequently, days later, two accusers were found in their cells DEAD in the SD women’s prison? That was quickly lost in the fray.
    In Mr. Tronvold’s case, a CO who shows up for their shift should be treated like deep sea oil, according to the prison study highlighting the struggle to keep guards on the payroll in SD jails. What a complete chapter in future history books on macabre human behavior. No, a whole semester’s worth of lessons on how not to let powers that be act.
    Furthermore, it should not be necessary to beetch and complain about the stupidity of having male COs employed in a women’s prison and female COs working inside a men’s prison. Seems mental. Unless you are begging for abuse to occur within the DOC.
    Happy zombie Jesus day, everyone.

  5. grudznick 2022-04-17

    Well, Ms. Mammal, if people just kept their zippers up in the work place there would be no such problems. I submit you are begging for a whining if females were not allowed to have the same rights to work as males in the prisons. It’s an equal opportunity thing, which you may not understand. I mean golly, they let girls coach boys in the high schools these days.

    Happy Zombie Jesus Day to you, as well. I love the dining to celebrate the walking dead.

  6. Arlo Blundt 2022-04-17

    Well…more on the keepers and the kept…man’s inhumanity to man. Good people are often victimized by these environments…it is the nature of the beast. I wish Mr. Tronvold all the best in the future…he is walking through the fire.

  7. Tom 2022-04-17

    she could sell the tapes for her reelection fund…

  8. Spike 2022-04-17

    Nothing like using an improper flashlight to get fired. I hate that when it happens.

  9. Bob Newland 2022-04-17

    It appears to me that this whole SoDak prison event points up the shared experience of everyone who intersects the prison system. We’re all victims of it to some extent.

  10. Jake 2022-04-17

    Somehow, flashlights and SD government have a lot in common. The top ‘law-boy can’t see one lying close to a stricken body hit by the AG and it’s Noem’s ” I’ll have a light shining to make gov’t transparent”. BS

  11. All Mammal 2022-04-17

    Mr. G, I understand balancing opportunity very concisely. There are more men prisoners and COs than there are women prisoners and COs. So how about women COs work in women’s prisons? And men COs work in men’s prisons? If I managed a men’s prison, I would never in my right mind employ a woman to guard men, just as I would never risk manning a woman’s prison with men. That is not safe. For staff and their charges. Pants and zippers are not the concern. Eliminate the threat and likelihood of abuse where the balance of power and size are off kilter. By the way, if such sense would be implemented, the females would not be the ones whining. No woman wants to work in stinky boys prison. Regardless of what the governor is all about.

  12. ABC 2022-04-18

    Corruption and racism in the prison system.

    New Governor should appoint a Native American to head the entire prison system.

    All the prison heads have been white male?

    Guards treat workers and inmates badly, no doubt.

    All the more reason to elect 105 Democrats and Progressives to the Legislature and change the system. Screw Bipartisanship. One Republican legislator is one too many! The people are not Bipartisan. They vote for whoever they want. Sea change is coming. Since the Democratic Party Does Not know how to run 105 legislative races, period, a Progressive Party WILL do that! History is made by us! The right wing crank-ocracy thinks they own South Dakota, only the people do! We can create history now and every day by insisting the regime that creates racist prisons resign, and we will gladly replace them with people WE elect!

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