SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — This story has been updated with comments from the State DOC.
On Monday, October 31, Hughes County came to an agreement with the State of South Dakota to house some DOC inmates in the Hughes County Jail.
“We’ve been working on this for 6-9 months now,” said Hughes County Sheriff Patrick Callahan.
The agreement stems from a need from the state to house a growing number of inmates, and the ability of the county to fulfill that need — for a price.
The current agreement is for one year, and Callahan said the contract is worth up to $2.7 million.
The exact dollar amount will depend on a number of factors, including how many inmates are housed in Hughes County facilities.
Michael Winder, a spokesperson for the DOC added clarification on the cost, noting that the contract amount is written to not exceed $2,772,480, and is for a period of Nov. 2022 – June 2024.
The Hughes County Jail already houses what may be called non-local inmates. “We hold inmates from North Dakota to Nebraska,” said Callahan. “We’re the regional jail for 14 counties in the surrounding area and we also hold federal inmates.”
Callahan explained how this will be different.
“In South Dakota, jails traditionally hold those that are awaiting sentencing, while prisons and corrections will hold those that have been sentenced,” he said. “Because of the way our jail has been built — a pod configuration — we can actually house the DOC inmates separate from our local offenders.”
While many county jails will hold temporary DOC inmates — parole absconders or probation violators — Hughes County will now hold long-term prisoners.
While prisoners will be moving from DOC facilities to Hughes County facilities, DOC staff will not. “This is entirely with the Hughes County Sheriff’s Office,” said Callahan. “We will be using our own staff and we’ll provide all of our own resources.”
Winder added that while DOC staff will not work in the jail, DOC case managers will visit the DOC offenders at least once per month.
The largest factor allowing this agreement to take shape is the feeling that the Hughes County Jail has the extra space to house DOC inmates.
Callahan said the Hughes County facility is designed to hold 150-160 inmate beds. “We had enough extra bed capacity that we felt good about entering into this agreement,” he said.
The concern that the housing of DOC inmates might create a scenario where the jail does not have room to process new offenders is one that Callahan said was discussed at length in negotiations.
“We have the ability to return prisoners back to the DOC with notice,” said Callahan, also noting that he believes the jail’s capacity keeps that from being a concern.
In addition to being able to return inmates, the jail also has the final say on who they will be taking in.
“[The] DOC is screening all of those that may be housed at Hughes County, and then we also screen on the other side to make sure we’re ideally identifying low to low-mid-type offenders,” Callahan said. “These are people that are going to be in custody for a shorter period of time, where the county jail is a good fit.”
While this initial contract is for just one year, Callahan thinks there is a potential for the program to expand, not just into the future, but also into other counties.
“Everyone is looking for ways that we can work together,” Callahan said. “I think that momentum is there — I would be surprised if you don’t see this used as a blueprint in other places.”
Winder, on behalf of the DOC, told KELOLAND News via email that the Hughes County Jail will be eligible to house up to 48 DOC prisoners. He said the reason for the contract is the current overcrowding at the women’s prison in Pierre, and that the contract is meant to ease the overcrowding until a new women’s facility can be built in Rapid City.