Board of Pardons and Paroles

The minimum security center of the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, pictured on Feb. 16, 2023. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Noem issues 40 more pardons since April

BY: - November 3, 2023

Gov. Kristi Noem has issued 40 pardons since April, according to records on file with the Secretary of State’s Office. The pardons bring the total number issued by Gov. Noem since the start of her first term to 268. The Board of Pardons and Paroles offers recommendations on pardons to the governor, but South Dakota’s […]

The South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles hears from DOC staffer Stacy Cole on July 13, 2023, at the Jamison Annex of the South Dakota State Penitentiary. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Texas native with lengthy theft sentence earns commutation endorsement from parole board

BY: - July 13, 2023

SIOUX FALLS — A Texas native who bilked his business partners out of more than $169,000 in 2005 could walk free if Gov. Kristi Noem signs off on a commutation recommended Thursday by the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Should the governor endorse the board’s 5-2 recommendation for clemency, 60-year-old Rex Gard would be able […]

Terra Eagle Feather, right, sits with a South Dakota Board of Pardons and Parole staffer prior to a hearing on her pardon request, at the Jamison Annex of the South Dakota State Penitentiary on March 15, 2023. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

New records release puts pardons from Gov. Noem at 228

BY: - April 22, 2023

The South Dakota Secretary of State’s Office has released 28 additional pardons signed by Gov. Kristi Noem since 2019. Earlier this year, the office released 200 of Noem’s pardons in response to a records request from South Dakota Searchlight.  It’s unknown why the additional pardons were not in the first batch. Deputy Secretary of State […]

The South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, as seen on Jan. 9, 2023. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Teen murderer, now 41, denied parole in fourth appearance before board

BY: - April 14, 2023

SIOUX FALLS – A 41-year-old inmate who put two bullets in the head of a man who was pleading for his life in 1996 will spend at least eight more months in prison. Paul Jensen was 14 years old at the time. He was given a mandatory sentence of life without parole for first-degree murder […]

The G. Norton Jameson Annex at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Power of mercy: Noem decisions highlight outsized importance of pardons in South Dakota

BY: - April 7, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story about pardons is part of a special report on executive clemency. An additional story explores commutations, and a commentary outlines difficulties encountered in obtaining pardon records. — A father from Fort Pierre with five drunken driving convictions and more than a decade of sobriety wants to take his son hunting. A […]

A sign for the Solem Public Safety Center in Pierre. The center is the home of the South Dakota Department of Corrections administrative offices, as well as the South Dakota Women's Prison. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Parole officers create specialty unit to target parolees in hiding

BY: - February 20, 2023

Until recently, most parole officers in South Dakota managed a caseload that included a mix of low- and high-risk offenders and “absconders,” the term given to parolees who lose touch with their parole officers. A few months ago, however, the Department of Corrections reshuffled those caseloads to create an Absconder Apprehension Unit, whose officers track […]

Court documents in the Danielle Blakney case. (Illustration by South Dakota Searchlight)

Woman pleads guilty to another crime 11 days after sentence reduction by Noem

BY: - January 5, 2023

A woman released from prison less than two weeks ago by Gov. Kristi Noem has pleaded guilty to another criminal charge that was pending while the woman was in prison. Danielle Blakney, 30, of Spearfish, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Lawrence County court to one count of simple assault. As part of a plea agreement, the […]

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks to supporters on Nov. 7, 2022, in Rapid City. (Kevin Eilbeck for South Dakota Searchlight)

Noem goes against board, victims’ families and review process to reduce prison sentences

BY: - December 30, 2022

When Gov. Kristi Noem reduced seven prisoners’ sentences recently, she overruled the Board of Pardons and Paroles in one case, went against some victims’ family members she hadn’t contacted, and may have violated her own executive order. The governor issued the sentence reductions, called “commutations,” on Christmas Eve. A news release said all seven people […]