frequent questions

Inmate Releases

What are the different ways for an inmate to be released from prison?

An inmate could be discharged from custody upon serving their complete sentence, often known as "flatting" their sentence, be paroled or be released on suspended sentence.

What happens before an inmate is released in any of those ways?

Staff in the records department review the date calculations of the inmate's sentence and check for any holds or detainers placed on inmates by other law enforcement agencies. If the inmate was convicted of a sex offense, the forms required for them to register as a sex offender are sent to them to complete before their release.

If the release date is confirmed, staff also then determine the amount of money the inmate has in their bank account, the inmate's forwarding address and transportation needs and forward this information to the institution business office.

How can a victim request notification of an inmate's release from custody (including escape or parole)?

SDCL 23A-28C-2 requires that at the commencement of a criminal proceeding, the prosecutor shall advise the victim of their rights by first class mail. In order to take advantage of such rights, the victim shall advise the prosecutor of the desire to participate. A victim may choose to participate only in certain enumerated phases of the proceedings.

A victim wishing to participate shall advise the prosecutor or the DOC of the place where notifications required under this chapter are to be made, and of any changes in the place of notification. A prosecutor receiving notification of a victim's wish to participate shall keep record of that notification and most recent place of notification through the time of the defendant's final discharge from the criminal justice system. If the defendant is sentenced to the state prison system, the prosecutor shall forward the information to the Department of Corrections and the Department of Corrections shall keep record of the request for notification and the most recent place of notification until the defendant's final discharge from prison and parole. The request for notification and the place of notification is confidential and may not be disclosed to the defendant.

SDCL 23A-28C-5 requires any institution under the control of the Department of Corrections or the Department of Human Services, or any jail or other facility where a person is incarcerated due to the commission of a crime, shall provide notice, as soon as possible, if the victim requests to be notified if any of the following occur:

  1. Upon the person's escape from custody and return to custody following escape;
  2. Of any release from custody, including placement in an intensive supervision program or other alternative disposition, such notice to include associated conditions of release;
  3. Upon the granting of parole or revocation of parole;
  4. Prior to the defendant's release from custody due to expiration of sentence; and
  5. Of any removal from an intensive supervision program or other alternative disposition.

Notice as required in SDCL 23A-28C-5 shall be provided directly to the victim by the Department of Corrections if the defendant is incarcerated in an institution under the control of the Department of Corrections. If the defendant is incarcerated in an institution under the control of the Department of Human Services, or in any jail or in other facility due to the commission of a crime, notice as required in SDCL 23A-28C-5 shall be provided to the state's attorney in the county where the person was convicted of that crime.

SDCL 24-15-8.1 allows the victim to request in writing to be notified by the Board of Pardons and Parole when an inmate who was convicted of committing the crime is granted parole or the inmate's parole is revoked. The board shall send the notice by first class mail to the address provided by the victim.

SDCL 24-15-8.2 allows for the victim or the sentencing judge to request in writing to be notified by the Department of Corrections if the inmate who was convicted of committing the crime escapes or is released from the penitentiary, or placed on regularly scheduled furlough or work release or is returned from escape or removed from work release. The Department of Corrections may either telephone the victim or the sentencing judge or send the notice by first class mail to the address provided by the victim or the sentencing judge.

If the victim is a minor, the victim's parent or guardian may request notification.

Do inmates receive money when they are released?

Yes. This is often known as gate money.

If paroling or releasing on suspended sentence, the inmate may receive a bus ticket or a ride on a transport shuttle to the county of commitment or equivalent distance. If discharging their sentence, the inmate may receive transportation if they didn’t receive this transportation on a prior parole or suspended sentence release on this sentence.

Inmates initially releasing from an institution on parole or suspended sentence or discharge will leave with a minimum of $50 "gate money". This gate money will come from the inmate’s account. If the inmate has less than $50 in their account, the State will supplement the amount needed to allow the inmate to leave with $50. Inmates releasing from an institution a second or subsequent time who received state issued gate money on a prior release on this sentence, will not receive gate money from the State.

Do inmates receive anything that shows they have completed their sentence?

All inmates completing their final prison sentence either from a DOC facility, parole or suspended sentence will receive a Discharge Certificate.

Discharge certificates for inmates under Parole Department Supervision will be distributed to the appropriate parole agent.

The discharge certificate is necessary for the inmate to regain their rights as citizens (voting).