Former deputy warden sues SD Department of Corrections


SPRINGFIELD, S.D. (KELO) – A former deputy warden at Mike Durfee State Prison is suing the Department of Corrections.

Our 2016 KELOLAND News investigation looked at problems in South Dakota’s prisons; from high turnover to dangerous working conditions and low employee morale.

Jennifer Stanwick-Klimek worked at the Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield for 15 years.

When she left the job, she was the Deputy Warden in Springfield. In 2016, she spoke to us about training new correctional officers.

“I’m also a member of the state training directors network through the National Institute of Corrections, so I collaborate with all of the states in the United States and their training directors on what they see is happening and we utilized some of their best practices as well,” Stanwick-Klimek said in August of 2016.

In her newly filed federal lawsuit, Stanwick-Klimek claims former warden Bob Dooley believed he could override or ignore DOC policies and procedures if he felt like it.

Stanwick-Klimek alleges that Dooley made offensive comments about her and other women who worked in the Springfield prison.

But during our KELOLAND News Investigation in March of 2016 we spoke with correctional officers who told us that they had complained that Stanwick-Klimek didn’t follow prison policy or procedures, played favorites and drove other employees away.

In that same month, Stanwick-Klimek reported to her supervisors that she was “being subjected to a hostile work environment from male employees who were targeting her with insubordinate behavior and encouraging other staff and inmates to do the same.”

In 2016, Dooley told KELOLAND Investigates:

“I’ve been a warden here for a little over 20 years and I can guarantee that no staff member has ever been terminated because they came forward with a problem, an idea or a complaint, Bob Dooley said in March of 2016

Stanwick-Klimek says Dooley told her to stop wearing skirts and dresses to work because male staff members thought she was dressing in violation of the “Prison Rape Elimination Act.”

In September of 2016, Stanwick-Klimek alleges that a male prison employee was referring to her as “Public Enemy #1” and was suggesting ways that staff could get her fired through media reports. 

Also in her suit, she claims that DOC staff provided an inaccurate report about her termination to KELOLAND News.

On March 29, 2018, KELOLAND News reported: “KELOLAND Investigates obtained an email from Warden Dooley to the prison staff that reads: “Effective immediately and until further notice, Jennifer Stanwick is on Administrative Leave.”

Stanwick-Klimek claims the DOC failed to correct inaccurate information about her performance and termination that had been circulated by DOC staff to the media and that hurt her chances of getting another job and publicly humiliated her.

Stanwick-Klimek says in the lawsuit that she was forced to resign. She did not respond to our attempts to contact her for this report.

Michael Winder with the DOC told KELOLAND News that they cannot comment on pending litigation. 

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