Inmate work Program

DOC Facilities

One of the most common activities that inmates are employed in is working in and around the correctional facility where they are housed. Inmates at SD DOC facilities work as custodians, orderlies, kitchen staff, in the laundry, at the commissary and supply, clerks, auto maintenance and on the grounds. Additionally, inmates have been enlisted to do other larger projects that benefit the operation and enhancement of the facility.

In recent years, the inmates have assisted with the removal of portions of the South Dakota State Penitentiary stonewalls. The walls had deteriorated from moisture freeze and thaw over the 100-plus years since the prison was constructed, making them unsafe and a security risk. The remaining portions were tuck pointed by inmates to improve the walls structural integrity. This process involved the complete removal of the stone fascia, repacking the wall interior and then replacing the stone in its original place. The work is very intricate and in many cases resembles putting together a three dimensional puzzle. In the areas where the wall was removed, the inmates replaced the wall with a maximum-security fence. The installation of the fence and the associated razor wire was all accomplished using inmate labor. The workmanship where the transition from fence to wall has been made is undetectable.

The Jameson Annex to the Penitentiary was originally built as a medium security facility. However, in the mid-1990's it became obvious the state needed additional space for maximum-security inmates. In order to accomplish this, the state utilized the services of inmates to increase the security level of the Jameson Annex. Fence and sensors were installed. Inmates welded wire mesh and bars throughout the facility. They also assisted in remodeling doors and sliders to harden the facility.

Within the walls of the SDSP, there is another element of inmate labor known as Pheasantland Industries. This venture uses inmates to do a variety of projects that either benefit state government, the private sector or some other for profit entity.

At the Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield, a medium-security facility, the inmates have also been involved in construction. The facility is a former college campus and has an open atmosphere. Inmates travel throughout the facility to attend school, vocational courses or to work. A building that serves as facility control and a medical unit monitors the inmate’s movement and activities while crossing the facility. Inmates constructed this building in its entirety.

Just as they have at SDSP, the inmates in Springfield have installed an interior fence to improve security. They also extended the fence to the north to provide additional area for the Governor’s Affordable Housing Project.

The Women’s Prison has also completed a couple of major projects using inmate labor. The PACT house was constructed at MDSP, moved to Pierre and placed on a foundation adjacent to the Women’s Prison. It provides inmates and their children a homelike setting to visit one weekend per month. The inmates also did the interior, HVAC and wiring for the minimum-security unit on the grounds of the Women’s Prison.

Juvenile Facilities

In 1997, the inmates remodeled the then Forestry Camp in Custer State Park to house girls who had been at the Lamont Center in Redfield. The facility was upgraded and two classrooms were constructed adjacent to the gymnasium.

When Sanator closed, the former hospital and administration building underwent extensive remodeling. Inmate labor accounted for over 50,000 hours of work. The facilities were virtually gutted and remodeled within. Buildings on the campus have been tuck pointed or re-roofed. Some of the grounds have been remodeled, including the destruction and removal of at least 8 houses that were in disrepair.

Buildings were painted and inmates landscaped the interior yards. Inmates also constructed a 22-foot high 24-foot wide climbing wall in the gymnasium. A dozen trailers for additional staff housing were put in place and the inmates assisted in laying the water and sewer lines for these residences. The inmates also built two decks for each house and installed some shoring on those residences on steep slopes.

Click on the picture(s) below to see a larger version.

Kitchen Workers Inmated Cleaning The Floors Inmates doing laundry
Inmates assist with day-to-day facility operations such as meal preparation, cleaning and laundry.