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The South Dakota State Prison System

In South Dakota, criminal offenses and certain civil matters (for example, contempt of court) attract several penalties, including incarceration. For a criminal offense, a person can be detained in a prison or jail facility. In the prison system, the South Dakota Department of Corrections (SD DOC) controls the adult prisons, juvenile corrections, and adult parole institutions, and is charged with supervising all persons who enter these institutions. While the county sheriffs manage the jails at the county level and are responsible for apprehended and jailed persons. According to the DOC annual report, the SD DOC had custody of 3,819 inmates in 2019.

What is the Difference Between Jail and Prison in South Dakota?

Though jails and prisons are government-run institutions that hold criminally sentenced or civilly committed persons, the facilities detain specific types of offenders and have different supervisory state agencies. Typically, a jail is county-run and persons booked into this facility have either been detained because of civil contempt or as a crime witness, or convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve out a short term of imprisonment. On the other hand, a prison is state-run and the residents have usually been convicted of a felony and sentenced to serve out a lengthier term of imprisonment. However, per SDCL 24–1–35, the South Dakota Department of Corrections can contract a local jail to supervise persons incarcerated in state prisons.

How Many Prisons are in South Dakota?

Within the South Dakota prison system, the South Dakota Department of Corrections manages the adult and juvenile correctional facilities. The adult facilities consist of 4 community centers for minimum security offenders (inmates/parolees), 1 prison annex, and prison industries/parole. Below are these facilities:

  • Jameson Annex
  • Mike Durfee State Prison
  • Rapid City Community Work Center
  • South Dakota State Penitentiary
  • South Dakota Women’s Prison
  • Yankton Community Work Center

How do I search for an Inmate in South Dakota State Prison?

The Offender Locator is an internet-based tool offered by the South Dakota Department of Corrections. Members of the public may use the locator to search for inmates residing in a South Dakota state prison. With this online finder, individuals may check an inmate’s or parolee’s status. To query the system, one will need to provide an inmate’s 6-digit DOC Number, last name, or first name, and click submit. Results will include an inmate’s first and last name, middle initial, and DOC number. More information on an inmate can be obtained by selecting the DOC number, including the inmate’s aliases, age, race, gender, physical description (hair/eye color, height, weight), current facility, status, parole office, and key booking dates. Searchers can also obtain details of current convictions such as the crime, sentence length, county of sentencing, sentencing date, and if there are any adjustments to the sentence.

Furthermore, interested persons may find information on escapees and walkways, and parole absconders through the SD DOC’s Most Wanted page. Viewable information includes the name of the escapee or absconder, photograph, facility, age, race, height/weight, DOC number, criminal charge, sentence, and agent (for parolees).

Are Incarceration Records Public in South Dakota?

In South Dakota, members of the public have access to certain parts of an incarceration record under the South Dakota Public Records Law, SDCL ch. 1 - 27. Records that can be accessed are also outlined under SDCL 24–2–20 and the SD DOC’s policy 1.1.E.1. Publicly available records include:

  • An offender’s name and aliases (if known)
  • Age, date of birth, sex, and gender
  • Town, state, and county of birth
  • Physical description and photograph
  • Place of incarceration
  • Resident community
  • County of conviction
  • Status of custody and supervisory conditions
  • Any SD DOC sentence identification number
  • Criminal convictions
  • Number of felonies for which the inmate was convicted
  • The offender’s plea
  • Sentence
  • Dates of admission, release, and parole eligibility
  • Dates of suspended sentence, pardon, pending/final parole hearings, and commutation hearings
  • Inmate or parolee status
  • Status of citizenship

Records that are inaccessible to the public are listed under SDCL 1–27–1.5, including medical records, inmate disciplinary records, and records of children committed to the South Dakota Department of Correction under SDCL 26–8B and 26–8C.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How to Look Up Jail Records in South Dakota?

Several South Dakota Sheriffs provide records or listings of persons who are currently in jail on their official websites, including the sheriff offices located in Pennington, Brookings, and Minnehaha counties. These jail records are usually updated every 15 minutes and reveal inmate information such as the individual’s full name, age, sex, race, intake time/date, inmate number, facility, bond type/amount, and charges. However, this information may vary by county. Alternatively, the particular sheriff can be contacted to request these records. A complete listing of all county sheriffs, including their names, photographs, location, contact numbers, and websites, can be found on the South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association website.

Can Jail Records be Expunged in South Dakota?

South Dakota’s expungement law is codified under SDCL 23A–3–26 through 33. Under these statutes, a person can apply for expungement of an arrest or criminal record in a South Dakota Court, provided that such arrest did not result in a conviction, the arrestee’s charges were dismissed, or that person was acquitted. To begin the expungement process, an individual must file a motion for expungement with the court. Under SDCL 23A–3–33, there is no statutory time limit for filing this petition when the defendant was acquitted but there is one if the case was dismissed by the prosecuting attorney as described in SDCL 23A–3–27. More information on South Dakota expungement procedures can be obtained from South Dakota Unified Judiciary System’s forms page. Keep in mind that an expungement in South Dakota does not mean that a record is physically destroyed (SDCL 23A–3–26)..

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