Frequent questions

Admissions & Orientation


Note: You can access the applicable DOC policies by clicking on Policies under the About Us tab.
1.4.B.2  Male Inmate Classification                            1.4.B.14  Female Inmate Classification
1.4.B.3  Adult Internal Management System (AIMS)  1.3.C.1   Offender Living Guide Policy
1.4.B.1  Individual Program Directives (IPD)              1.4.B.9    Sexual Behavior Issue Review 
1.4.G.6  System Risk Level

What happens when a new inmate first arrives at prison?

When new inmates arrive in prison, they go through a process known as Admissions and Orientation or A & O. Male inmates go through the A & O process at the Jameson Annex of the South Dakota State Penitentiary; females at the South Dakota Women's Prison. The A & O process takes approximately 20 days and is designed to ease the transition into the inmate's new surroundings.

The admissions process includes a review of the sentencing/violation/detainment paperwork for all admissions. The inmate is searched and an inventory is done of their property. An initial medical, dental, and mental health screening is conducted; photos are taken, fingerprinting is done and a DNA sample is taken for those who have not previously provided a sample. An interview is also conducted to collect personal and background information. Inmates are also issued an ID and assigned a cell/bed.

A series of risk and needs assessments are completed during A & O, including:

Risk Assessments   Needs Assessments
Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) LSI-R
Psycopathy screen  Behavioral Health Assessments    
AIMS Assessment (male inmates) Mental Health Assessments
PREA Inmate Assessment  Medical Assessments 
Community Risk Assessment  Sex Offender Management  
Classification Risk Assessment  
Sex Offender assessments (MNSost Static 99, Unconvicted Sex Offender Review)    

Risk Assessments

The Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) is designed to provide a method to predict the risk of an offender to re-offend and to identify programming needs. The LSI-R includes a review of the criminal history, education and employment, financial situation, family and marital status, accommodations, leisure and recreation interests, companions, alcohol and drug dependency, emotion and attitude of the offender. The LSI-R is completed on all new admissions to prison, parole violators and offenders who are entering the Community Transition Program (CTP).

The Adult Internal Management System (AIMS) determines the general personality profile of an inmate and is used to determine their cell block housing assignment. There are five AIMS code designations possible with this assessment (A, B, C, D and E). Code A, B and C inmates can be housed in the same area while Code C, D and E inmates can be housed in the same area.

The PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) Risk Assessment was designed to predict the potential of an inmate for sexual aggression and the vulnerability of an inmate being a victim of sexual assault. The PREA assessment is used to determine cell and bunk assignments. The different levels include Aggressor Potential (AP), Victim Potential (VP), Mixed Code (MX) and No Score (NS).  Inmates assessed as AP can live together or with an NS. Inmates assessed as VP can live together or with a NS. Inmates assessed as MX can live together or with an NS. NS can live with any category.

The Community Risk Assessment is used to determine the initial supervision level of an inmate upon release to parole supervision. Due to the dynamic nature of the assessment, Admissions Case Managers can instruct inmates on how to lower their supervision level during their time in prison.

The Custody Classification Risk Assessment determines the final custody level of an inmate, looking at an their history of violence, escape profile and dangerousness.

Assessed Risk is determined by five categories (current offense, length of sentence, incidence of violence, institutional behavior and escape profile).

Each category is assigned a point value during an assessment and the total points for the five categories determine the assessed risk level.

The Actual Risk Behavior is based on institutional disciplinary history.

The Final Risk Level is determined after actual risk behavior has been applied.

Administrative risk factors create an additional risk that is not captured in the assessed risk score and is applied when necessary. These factors include sex offender behavior issues, escape history, pending felony charges or holds, additional risk information such as a sentence of life or death, a high violent crime, more than 5 years to parole release and/or absconding from parole within the past 3 months. Mitigating risk information may be used to lower a final custody risk level below what is indicated by the risk scale.

Sex offender management staff complete or administer the following assessments for sex offenders and those inmates with an identified sexual behavior problem:

MnSost (Minnesota Sex Offender Screening Tool), Static 99 (measures static risk variables), ABEL (measures for deviant sexual attractions), psychosexual evaluations and an unconvicted sex offender review.   

Needs Assessments  

The LSI-R targets specific areas of need based on sub-groups such as corrective thinking, job finding and keeping, vocational education, financial responsibility, anger and stress management, impact of crime on victims and domestic violence.

Chemical dependency assessments determine the need for chemical dependency treatment, Native American chemical dependency treatment, intensive treatment, dual diagnosis treatment and methamphetamine treatment.

During the A & O process, staff members also collect information on the inmate's crime, previous criminal history and prior institutionalization as well as their employment history and work skills.

In addition to the HARE PSCAN which screens inmates tendencies towards psychopathic features, we also complete the following on inmates who score high on the PSCAN:

PCL-R Psychopathy Checklist which is used to screen inmates for psychopathic risk.

In addition, we complete the following due to life history information that is violent in nature:

Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG) is an assessment that predicts violent recidivism; and

Violence Risk Evaluation-Forensic evaluation report.


The inmate classification process begins during A & O to determine the inmate's risk level and recommended placement.

During this period, inmates are given an Inmate Living Guide, which explains the available services, institutional operations and rules and regulations. The Inmate Living Guide also contains information on subjects such as classification, rules governing inmate conduct, discipline, visiting, mail, counts, commissary and other such activities.

Inmates are also given an Individual Program Directive (IPD) which spells out what is expected of them based on their time to serve, classification and program needs. For new parole system inmates sentenced to a term of years, the IPD establishes standards and criteria for initial parole.  

When inmates receive their housing assignment, they are assigned to a Unit Team. The Unit Team typically consists of a Unit Manager, Case Manager and a Correctional Counselor. The Unit Team works with the inmates to address any problems, answer any questions, etc.

Can inmates have visitors during this time?

Inmates are not allowed visits during the A & O process. Once an inmate is assigned a housing unit, they are allowed to have visits, make phone calls, etc.  You can write to an inmate while they are in A & O.

For male adult inmates, write to: (Inmate Name) South Dakota State Penitentiary1600 North Drive, PO Box 5911Sioux Falls, SD 57117-5911

For female adult inmates, write to: (Inmate Name) South Dakota Women's Prison 3200 East Highway 34c/o 500 East Capitol Avenue, Pierre, SD 57501-5070


What property can an inmate bring in when they arrive at prison?

As of September 1, 2016, the DOC will only accept a drivers license, social security card, green card, passport, bank card, birth certificate or any other form of identification or similar reentry items that can fit into an envelope. No personal items should arrive with the individual with the exception of medication and certain medically necessary equipment such as eye glasses, dentures and prosthetics. We will accept U.S. currency or checks addressed to the individual. The inmate may have a wedding band, but it must not have precious stones or cost over $35. We do not accept personal clothing or property.


What do new inmates do for supplies like toiletries?

Those items are provided for new inmates. Once an inmate completes A & O and establishes an inmate bank account, they can purchase items such as shampoo, shaving cream and toothpaste from the prison commissary. If an inmate is indigent, the state will supply the basic toiletries.