PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — During her 2022 budget address, Governor Kristi Noem recommended spending millions of dollars on the Department of Corrections.
The South Dakota Department of Corrections has been under a lot of scrutiny this past year.
In July, Governor Noem announced a third-party firm would be reviewing the DOC following anonymous complaints from within the department of allegations of sexual harassment, nepotism, poor pay and bad equipment.
Several people were fired from the department, including the warden and assistant warden.
During her budget address Tuesday, the governor says one of the ways to improve public safety is to improve the department of corrections, including pay raises for correctional officers.
Governor Noem told lawmakers a recent study showed South Dakota needs $600 million dollars worth of new construction and improvements within the department of corrections.
“I’m not going to ask you to spend $600 million for prisons today, but I am asking you to save additional reserves for it in the future. We can get the ball rolling on several of the items that were highlighted,” Noem said.
Noem also wants lawmakers to address staff shortages within the department and prison system.
“For starters, we need to pay our correctional workers what they deserve. The 6 percent across the board increase for all state workers will surely help. But it’s not enough to keep correctional pay competitive enough to recruit people to the profession,” Noem said.
Noem is proposing spending an additional $2 million for pay raises for correctional officers, parole officers, and case managers.
She says that money will not go to administrative positions.
“There are smart things we can do today to keep our communities safer in the long run. I am proposing that we use reserve funds to start addressing our prison facility needs,” Noem said.
South Dakota selected CGL Companies of Sacramento, CA, to conduct a comprehensive review of DOC operations.
It’s supposed to be focusing on a variety of areas including safety and security, organizational climate, policy content and compliance, staffing, equipment protocols and training procedures.
The review, which got underway in September, was expected to take four months to complete.