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Governor’s Office Withholds Comment to KSFY, Talks to Fox About Prison Staff Shortage, Fox Omits Criticism

The Governor’s Office didn’t want to comment to the local press on the worsening staff shortage in South Dakota’s prison system. In her latest story on the unresolved challenges driving workers out of our Department of Corrections, KSFY’s Beth Warden reported that Governor Kristi Noem’s people did not respond to her request for an interview or statement.

The Governor’s Office reserved its response for the national press, specifically Fox News:

Ian Fury, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, told Fox News Digital that “Governor Noem and the Department of Corrections will continue working to recruit and retain high quality staff at all of our DOC facilities” [Adam Sabes, “South Dakota Prison Staffing Shortages Leave Inmates with No Showers,” Fox News, 2022.04.27].

Fox News refers to the Governor’s statement on the ongoing staff shortage in July 2021, and they mention, as does KSFY, a Department of Corrections statement that the current annualized vacancy rate is 31.5%. But Fox News does not mention, as KSFY did in its original report, that the vacancy rate is not just ongoing but worse-going, up from 25% last September and currently, according to correctional officers, 46%.

Also missing from the Fox retooling of KSFY’s story:

  • Criticism from Senator Troy Heinert (D-26/Mission) of the Governor’s and the new Corrections Secretary’s failure to address the staff shortage.
  • Criticism from an anonymous correctional officer of the temporary bonuses that are scheduled to end in June and the Legislature’s failure to fund permanent raises.
  • Criticism from prison guard union chief Eric Ollila that the state has focused too much on gimmicks to recruit new staff and not enough on improving working conditions to retain their existing staff.
  • The Fox report does mention that the ongoing/worsening staff shortage “caused an event with community and family members at the penitentiary to be canceled,” but it did not specify as KSFY does that the event was a Pow Wow scheduled months ago, that the Pow Wow raised concerns from Senator Heinert about the possible waste of donated buffalo meat, and that the DOC assures KSFY that the meat is in the freezer for the next Pow Wow (which may be difficult to schedule until the prison rectifies its staff shortage).

Evidently winning the comment prize from the Governor’s Office requires (a) offering access to a national audience and (b) leaving out all the uncomfortable details.


  1. 96Tears 2022-04-29

    Noem is a spineless, toothless, empty-headed coward. She can’t face polite questions from a Sioux Falls TV station. How is she going to do when the national press asks her questions the second she announces she’s running in a state primary for national office? The wimp will melt into a puddle.

    Kristi baby, they’re eat you up and spit you out. Now, put on your big girl pants and start behaving like a governor.

  2. Arlo Blundt 2022-04-29

    Well, Corrections, under Governor Noem’s neglect, has turned into a real mess with no remedy in sight.

  3. John 2022-04-29

    The uninquisitive legislature should ask the Department of Corrections where the millions programed for salaries went.
    It should be returned to the state general fund. Instead the agencies play a bureaucratic game of not filling FTEs to reprogram funds for their pet projects.

    If only South Dakota had legislative oversight. And if toads had wings they wouldn’t bump their asses.

  4. Janet 2022-04-29

    Another perfect example of how inept Noem is at governing SD. It just keeps happening without any legislative involvement or consequences of miss use of the state plane to various events where she can get all the national exposure she can. I can’t help but think the White House is her goal. And there’s so much other questionable behaviors. Daughter couldn’t pass a Real Estate Appraisal exam. There’s more examples but I’ll stop here. So much abuse of power.
    Discouraging future if people vote by political party.

  5. chris 2022-04-30

    In Sioux Falls, KSFY news (ABC) is also KDLT (NBC) and FOX local news. All 3 networks are braodcast by the same studio. The FOX local news is scripted from national FOX news-scrawls.

  6. leslie 2022-04-30

    Authoritarian leaders like Noem who ignore rules, norms and ethics ultimately result in Trumps and Putins.

    Saudi leaders executed and dismembered WaPo reporter Jamal Khashoggie last year as he attempted to get a marriage license.

    In ten years 6 Russian reporters have been murdered from ONE news paper.

    Rachel Maddow focused her week’s reporting on this and the domestic persecution Trump/Republicans vilify, ban, criminalize and assault “the enemy of the people” (c)Trump 2015-2022. “Murder the Media” 1/6/21 graffiti. “Lock her Up!” EMAILS

  7. grudznick 2022-04-30

    Wait. The prison guards now have a union and a mouthpiece who represents them?

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