SD moves forward with bill that would allow early release for working inmates
The bill allows inmates to get up to 180 days a year off their sentence for the completion of 360 hours of satisfactory work
By Corrections1 Staff
SPRINGFIELD, S.D. — The South Dakota House passed a bill that would grant earlier releases for inmates who hold a job in prison or complete self-improvement programs.
The Argus Leader reports that the bill allows inmates to get up to 180 days a year off their sentence for the completion of 360 hours of satisfactory work. The measure will also offer up to 90 days off a sentence for completing programs such as GED classes.
DOC Secretary Denny Kaemingk initially called on lawmakers to pass a bill that would offer inmates 10 days off their sentence every month they avoid a disciplinary write-up. But the bar was considered too high and the reward too low.
The bill still needs to pass through the state Senate and be signed by the Governor.
A spike in drug offenders has packed the state’s women’s prison and medium-security prison, with the latter struggling to fill a 21-officer shortage. Kaemingk said that while the issues are the most serious in those two prisons, the entire agency is feeling the effects of a 368-inmate jump in the past two years.
Kaemingk said COs at the medium-security prison are currently required to work 32 hours of overtime every eight weeks. He also called for an increase in starting officer pay at the facility by one dollar to $16.50 an hour, which is what COs make after a year.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard denied the DOC’s request to increase pay at all six adult facilities, so the proposed raise would only apply to officers at the medium-security prison.
The secretary added that wage competition has made it difficult to hire staff. Similar jobs in different county jails in the state offer better wages, with some offering as much as $21.45 an hour.