Frequent Questions

Inmate Classification

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


How are inmates classified?

The classification system is a standardized, objective system involving initial and re-classification processes. Each inmate is reviewed by a classification board at least annually.

The inmate classification system is based predominantly on prediction of risk, including risk of escape, violence, dangerousness, and repeat criminal behavior.

Inmates are assigned one of four custody levels: Maximum, High Medium, Low Medium, or minimum. This custody level determines the facility an inmate will be housed at, their level of supervision and their access to the community.

The Department of Corrections (DOC) will exercise response to risk commensurate with the assessed risk for each inmate to the degree possible.

Inmate classification will normally be completed by a unit manager, case manager or unit coordinator. Classification staff will determine custody level and recommend facility and program placement. The staff member will then set a date for the next classification review of the inmate. An earlier than scheduled classification review may be initiated by the classification staff based on changes to factors which may impact the final custody level of an inmate, but not limited to changes in sentence length, a major offense in custody committed by the inmate, or actions on holds and detainers, felony warrants or additional sentencing.

Each inmate will have a scheduled classification review at the earliest possible date the inmate is eligible for a reduction in their custody level. Inmates assigned Additional Risk (A-only) and or Administrative Decision will have their custody reviewed only if there are changes in the circumstances or reasons that prompted the assignment of Additional Risk or Administrative Decision.

Increases to the custody level of an inmate require action from classification staff, i.e. review of their classification. Inmates will not automatically be placed in a higher classification level after committing a major Offense in Custody.

Classification decisions are guided by DOC policy and the SD DOC Inmate Classification Manual.


Does an inmate have a right to be housed in a certain facility?

No inmate has any implied right or expectation to be housed in any particular facility, participate in any specific program, or receive any specific service; and an inmate is subject to transfer from any one facility, program or service at the discretion of a warden or Secretary of Corrections (SDCL 24-2-27).