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South Dakota inmates can’t shower due to staff shortages

A staff shortage at a South Dakota prison has reached a point where inmates are temporarily unable to shower.

According to KEVN, the staff at South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls April 22-24 was so low that inmates could not leave their prison cells to shower.

The staffing issues also led to the cancellation of an event with community and family members at the correctional facility.

South Dakota Attorney General Kellie Wasko told Dakota News Now that the shortage is resulting in less movement of prisoners within the facilities.

“When you’re so understaffed, you need to contain your movement of offenders around the facility. Because if there’s a disruption or an attack on personnel, we have far fewer personnel to contain it and protect each other,” Wasko said.

Wasko wrote in an April 12 letter to state senators that starting wages for Justice Department employees will rise from $17.89 to $20 starting in July.

Current employees also get a 6% pay increase, according to Wasko, and full vacation pay is paid to employees who work 12-hour shifts.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said in July 2021 that the staffing issue was ongoing.

Photo taken Tuesday, October 30, 2012 shows the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, SD
The staffing shortage dates back at least to July 2021, according to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
AP/Amber Hunt

“We have an unbelievable shortage here right now. So I think people would like to serve and work here [and] We should recognize the need to fill some of those shifts,” Noem said.

A spokesman for the Department of Corrections told the news agency they are working on staff pay, hiring and retention issues.

“Our current annualized vacancy rate for all positions in the DOC is 31.5%. We continue to work on issues of staff pay, hiring and retention,” said the spokesman, listing various examples.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks in Orlando, Florida on February 25, 2022.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem called the shortage “unbelievable.”
AP/John Raoux

Ian Fury, a spokesman for the governor’s office, told Fox News Digital that “Governor Noem and the Department of Corrections will continue to work to hire and retain highly qualified staff at all of our DOC facilities.”

Michael Winder, spokesman for the South Dakota Department of Justice, apologized in a statement to Fox News Digital for the cancellation of activities at the prison, saying, “The safety of our staff, inmates and visitors is of the utmost importance.”

https://nypost.com/2022/04/28/south-dakota-inmates-cant-shower-due-to-staff-shortage/ South Dakota inmates can’t shower due to staff shortages

JACLYN DIAZ

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