SD Department of Corrections

SD Department of Corrections

In 2014 the warden at the South Dakota State Penitentiary enacted a more stringent policy restricting access to obscene materials.

Inmate Charles Sisney sued in U.S. Federal District Court in Sioux Falls, leaving that court to balance an inmate's civil rights against the need to maintain a safe and orderly institution.

Under the newest policy, not only pictures are banned, but also prose. And images that can be banned include nudity in any context, including art or modern photography.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the state Department of Corrections. DOC was sued by the widow of Ron Johnson, the corrections officer who was killed in 2011 by inmates trying to escape.

Lynette Johnson said penitentiary officials had advance notice that the two inmates presented an escape risk but moved them to a less secure facility anyway. Among other claims, Mrs. Johnson sued DOC for wrongful death and infliction of emotional distress.

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In The Moment ... February 21, 2017 Show 034 Hour 2

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Convicted killer Rodney Berget says he wants to stop an appeal that’s preventing him from being put to death, but his attorney can't support the move. The issues are enough to delay major action in Rodney Berget’s case for a few months.

Rodney Berget was in a Minnehaha County courtroom Friday. He wants to end his execution appeal.

Judge Douglas Hoffman asked if he understood that waiving his rights is a path to execution. Berget responded "yes".

That wasn’t enough for the judge to authorize a path to execution that day.

South Dakota Department of Corrections

Meth is continuing to be present in South Dakota. State officials are tasked with taking on the problem on a number of levels.

Denny Kaemingk is the Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Corrections and Amy Iverson-Pollreiz is the Deputy Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Social Services. They join Dakota Midday to talk about the state's drug policy and the people effected.

Denny Kaemingk is the Secretary for the South Dakota Department of Corrections. He began his career as a patrol officer in Mitchell in 1976. He sits down with Dakota Midday host Lori Walsh to discuss the closure of the STAR Academy near Custer and other changes in state corrections.

SD Department of Corrections

A high-risk inmate is leaving prison this week after 11 years. Leaders with the South Dakota Department of Corrections say the prisoner has a violent record and did not follow rules while serving time, but his sentence has expired.  

Michael Ontiveros leaves prison Wednesday after completing time for multiple burglaries in Hughes and Walworth counties. The 47-year-old man is a registered sex offender with a history of attempted sexual assault, kidnapping, escape, and grand theft.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Some inmates at the state prison are working to uphold a standard of integrity despite living decades behind bars. The South Dakota State Penitentiary houses people who have committed heinous crimes. It’s also a place where inmates of many faiths can choose to worship.

A Lutheran congregation called St. Dysmas has more than 100 churchgoers in the 700-person prison. They elect council members, and those inmate leaders talk about forming community when their own actions keep them from being part of regular society.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota drivers get new license plates starting in January, and inmates at the state penitentiary are making them. The current design is a decade old, and state officials want to update them because of aging and concerns about their reflectivity. Prisoners started producing license plates in 1929. Now current inmates are preparing to make 1.5 million plates for 2016.

SD Department of Corrections

This week corrections officials are releasing a kidnapper from the state penitentiary. Glen Walker, 46 was an accomplice of Robert Leroy Anderson. Anderson murdered two women in the 1990s. Now South Dakota Department of Corrections leaders want people to know Walker is leaving prison December 24, 2015.

Families of the victims and law enforcement know Glen Walker is walking out of prison on Thursday. State Secretary of Corrections Denny Kaemingk says he’s notifying the public because Walker’s release is high-profile – not necessarily high-risk.

A juvenile justice workgroup has released recommendations to cap terms of probation and out-of-home placements and focus on community services. Doug Herrmann is director of juvenile services with the Department of Corrections. He tells SDPB’s Victoria Wicks that treating kids early on in the community can prevent negative behavior from escalating and can save the state money.

Services for delinquent juveniles in South Dakota have been delivered unevenly. That’s one finding in a recently released report by a workgroup for the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative. The state’s more urban areas have a wider array of community-based services and therefore are able to better tailor responses to individual juveniles’ needs. The director of juvenile services with the state Department of Corrections tells SDPB’s Victoria Wicks that the workgroup’s recommendations could help to correct those inequities.

Prison officials say a man convicted of murdering a Sioux Falls woman apparently hanged himself in his cell. Authorities pronounced James McVay dead at the state penitentiary Thursday morning after CPR attempts failed.