frequent questions

Inmate Property

Note: You can access the applicable DOC policies by clicking on Policies under the About Us tab.
1.3.C.4  Inmate Personal Property

What kind of personal property items are inmates allowed to have while in prison?

Personal property items are limited in prison because of a number of issues, including security and space. Each facility maintains a list of the type and amount of authorized personal property that may be retained and stored by inmates housed at the institution.

Inmates may obtain personal property through the following methods:
1. Authorized property retained by the inmate upon admission to the institution;
2. Property issued to the inmate while in custody;
3. Property purchased by the inmate through the institutional commissary system; and
4. Authorized property approved by staff to be mailed to the inmate or otherwise received.

Inmates are not allowed to transfer property to other inmates without the approval of the Warden or his/her designee. Inmates may not trade, loan, barter or sell any item of personal property to staff, a visitor, contractor, volunteer or other inmate.

For example, inmates can keep items such as a basic design wedding band if they possess it when they come into prison. Clothing is issued to the inmates. Most other property items must be purchased through commissary.

Can inmates have tobacco products in prison?

No. As of December, 2000 all South Dakota DOC facilities were tobacco-free. Tobacco is considered to be contraband and inmates face disciplinary action if they are found to be in possession of tobacco or tobacco products. There is an exception for tobacco used in approved religious ceremonies if brought into the institution in an approved manner.

What happens to someone who brings tobacco to an inmate?

SDCL 24-2-22 states that any person who delivers or procures to be delivered, or possesses with the intention to deliver, to any inmate in the state penitentiary, or deposits or conceals in or around any facility or place used to house inmates, or in any mode of transport entering upon the grounds of any facility or place and its ancillary facilities used to house inmates, any article which is unlawful for an inmate to possess pursuant to state law or the rules of the Department of Corrections with the intent that any inmate obtain or receive such article, is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

Can inmates receive books or other publications such as magazines while in prison?

Yes. Soft cover books and magazines are allowed, but only if sent to the inmate directly from the publisher. You cannot send in a book or magazine to an inmate.

Inmates are not allowed to exchange, buy, trade, barter or rent another inmate's magazines or books.

Inmates are not allowed to have any publications which graphically feature nudity or sexually-explicit conduct.