frequent questions

Inmate Finances

Note: You can access the applicable DOC policies by clicking on Policies under the About Us tab.
1.1.B.2 Inmate Accounts and Financial Responsibility
1.4.G.2 Inmate Release Procedure

1.5.A.2 Private Sector Prison Industries Employment
1.5.A.5 Work Release
1.5.D.4 Inmate Access to Telephones
1.5.G.2 Community Transition Program
1.2.E.1  Inmate Commissary

Each inmate has a bank account set up in their name. There are a number of subaccounts that can be utilized depending on DOC policy.

Inmates requesting to deposit business, government, payroll, cashiers checks or money orders into their institutional account(s) must sign an Admission Document. All checks or money orders received for an inmate without a signed Admission Document will be returned to the sender by mail and at the expense of the inmate.

Funds received for the inmate, from any approved source, while the inmate is in custody of the Department of Corrections will be deposited into the inmate's account. Money specifically meant for the inmate debit phone account must be sent directly to the phone vendor (see DOC Policy 1.5.D.4 Inmate Access to Telephones policy for more information). We will not accept any funds for inmate phone use.  The money will be deposited into the account of the inmate.

Inmates may use the funds in their bank account to purchase items such as writing supplies, hygiene items and snacks. Court ordered financial obligations, special program financial obligations and costs incurred while in custody of the DOC are automatically withdrawn from an inmate's account.

An inmate may receive funds to purchase a TV. A money order must be specifically marked "for TV purchase" and will only be for the full amount of the purchase. No partial amounts will be accepted.

How can I send money to an inmate?

Inmates may receive business/payroll checks, United States cashier's checks or money orders through the mail only for deposit into their institutional account.


Family members can now post via credit card to inmate banking accounts online at by creating an account, choosing "Commissary" and following the prompts for state, facility and inmate name. All incoming deposits are subject to the same policy as money order deposits below. Please note that credit card deposits made online are assessed a fee, which is retained by the provider of the service and is not payable to DOC.


Personal checks and cash are not accepted and will be returned to the sender at the expense of the inmate.

Can anyone send in money to an inmate?

No. Inmates cannot receive any funds from another inmate, parolee or person on felony probation from any jurisdiction or from another inmate's family or friends, a M-2 or W-2 or other DOC volunteer, unless it is authorized by the facility warden or their designee.

What happens to money the inmates earn while working?

Any earnings received by an inmate from the institution, work release, Community Transition Program (CTP), traditional Prison Industries or Private Sector Prison Industries (PSPI) payroll will be deposited into the institutional account of the inmate according to procedures established by applicable DOC policies (See SDCL § 1-15-21).

Inmates assigned to the Work Release program will first have funds applied/deducted for room and board charges based on an assigned percentage rate established by the DOC. All credit obligations, including work release expense loans will be deducted from the  work release pay check(s) and a percentage will go towards any authorized work release related expenses in the work release expense subaccount (See DOC policy 1.5.A.5 Work Release).

Inmates assigned to PSPI will first have obligations designated in DOC policy 1.5.A.2 Private Sector Prison Industries Employment deducted from their PSPI payroll. Any remaining funds will be distributed according to policy.

Money earned or received by an inmate during participation in the Community Transition Program (CTP) will first be applied to credit obligations, including CTP work release expense loans. Room and board charges will be deducted next, based on an assigned percentage rate established by the DOC. Next, a percentage will be applied towards authorized work related expenses. The remaining funds will be retained in the institutional account in either the spend account, savings account, work release expense account or frozen account, according to the provisions of this policy (See DOC policy 1.5.G.2 Community Transition Program).

What types of accounts are available to inmates?

There are several types of accounts, including Spend, Savings, Frozen, Specialty, PS Family, and Work Release Expense. See DOC Policy 1.1.B.2 for additional information on the various accounts.

Fixed obligations include debts related to crimes committed and prison/parole related obligations listed on financial plan for the inmate, including cost of incarceration. Examples of fixed obligations are:

*Child Support;
*Other court ordered obligations including fines, fees, sanctions and restitution;
*Costs incurred while in the custody of the DOC;

*Parole Supervision fees;

*Parole Scram Fees;

*Parole Remote Breath Test; or

*Cost of incarceration.

Do inmate accounts earn interest?

No. Inmate accounts are non-interest bearing accounts and as such will not be charged transaction fees other than stop payments on checks requested by the inmate.

Who keeps track of account balances?

There is a computerized system in place to keep track of inmate bank account balances. Inmates are notified of any money placed in the inmate's account and of any disbursements made.

What happens to the money when an inmate leaves the prison system?

The account of the inmate will be closed upon the release (discharge) of an inmate, or conditional release (parole or suspended sentence), or transfer to an out-of-state facility. This does not apply to temporary absence, out-to-court transfers or inmates moving directly to CTP. The balance of the subaccounts of the inmate (spend, savings, family support, specialty, work release expense and frozen) will be included and any payroll money due. Credit obligations will be deducted from any funds prior to closing the subaccount(s). After gate money and transportation provisions are made pursuant to DOC Policy 1.4.G.2 Inmate Release Procedure, a single check will be issued to the inmate for the entire amount of funds remaining in the account.

For inmates releasing to parole supervision, any unsatisfied obligations will be part of the release plan. Parolees are financially responsible for payment of unsatisfied obligations.