South Dakota prison workers to receive temporary raises and bonuses

With so many places hiring, a good employee can be hard to find.  A correction officer’s...
With so many places hiring, a good employee can be hard to find. A correction officer’s starting pay at the State Penitentiary is $17.47 per hour.(Dakota news now)
Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 6:13 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota state prison employees could be eligible for a variety of temporary pay raises and bonuses.

The announcement follows a state investigation of the South Dakota State Penitentiary and the firing of Warden Darin Young and Deputy Warden Jennifer Dreiske.

According to an email from Interim Secretary of Corrections Tim Reisch, which was obtained by the Dakota News Now I-Team, correctional employees could qualify for three pay enhancements:

  • Night shift employees will receive an additional $1.50 per hour differential, on top of the existing weekend and other differentials.
  • Employees who volunteer for shifts through mandatory needs or call-ins will be paid double-time.
  • All current employees will be eligible for up to four retention bonus payments totalling $2500 if they remain employed through April 1, 2022. New employees will be eligible for smaller bonuses based on their start date.

According to the email, these pay increases will end on March 23, 2022.

Reisch said in the letter that these short-term changes will work within the existing corrections budget. The governor and legislature must still work to find long-term solutions.

The pay enhancements follow a meeting between Governor Kristi Noem and state penitentiary staff members last week.

Noem told employees that the salary policy has been under review for many months and that the state is looking for long-term fixes. Noem says the prison needs more staff and that the current staff is tired and wants to end a mandatory overtime policy.

The state investigation at the penitentiary was prompted by an anonymous letter first reported by the Dakota News Now I-Team in May.

The complaint laid out a number of grievances, including low pay, nepotism in promotions, and sexual harassment.

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