An inmate at the Women's Prison in Pierre works on a block of metal during a precision machining class in 2022. The program is a partnership between the state Department of Corrections, state Department of Labor and Regulations and state technical colleges.

Department of Corrections moves to take over inmate shopping system

BY: - October 16, 2023

Prison inmates in South Dakota who want to buy nearly anything beyond their state-furnished three meals a day can only order from one store: the prison commissary.  For years, the state Department of Corrections has contracted the management of inmate commissary orders and deliveries to private companies, which supply candy bars, cans of tuna, batteries, […]

From left, Pennington County Sheriff Brian Mueller, South Dakota Secretary of Corrections Kellie Wasko and Ryan Brunner, senior policy adviser and director of legislative relations for Gov. Kristi Noem, participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for a women's prison Oct. 16, 2023, in Rapid City. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

State breaks ground on $60 million women’s prison in Rapid City

BY: - October 16, 2023

RAPID CITY — While controversy continues over the site of a proposed new penitentiary near Sioux Falls, the state Department of Corrections is proceeding with a plan to build a new women’s prison on the other side of South Dakota. State officials broke ground for the women’s prison Monday in Rapid City. “I’m very happy […]

Oglala Sioux Tribe President Frank Star Comes speaks to reporters Feb. 2023 after the first day of hearings in Oglala Sioux Tribe v. United States. The tribe alleges that the United States has failed their treaty obligations by providing inadequate law enforcement funding. (Photo by Shalom Baer Gee, Rapid City Journal)

Law enforcement issues unresolved following Oglala Lakota lawsuit

BY: - October 13, 2023

A 155-year-old treaty is central to defining what law enforcement services the United States is obligated to provide to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. But questions still remain about what that entails and what it means for the rest of Indian Country. The “Bad Men Clause” within the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty with the Oceti Sakowin […]

The site selected for the new South Dakota State Penitentiary in Lincoln County. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

State’s selection of prison site upsets Lincoln County neighbors

BY: - October 6, 2023

The multimillion-dollar replacement for the South Dakota State Penitentiary is set to appear on farm ground south of Harrisburg in Lincoln County.  County commissioners have known that the site was under consideration for at least six weeks. Some state lawmakers who represent the area have known for longer. Sarah Ulmer, who lives half a mile […]

K's Qwik Stop in Wagner, SD. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Grandmother seeks answers after Taser use against 12-year-old Native American girl

BY: - October 5, 2023

WAGNER — A grandmother wants answers after a video showing a Wagner police officer using a Taser on her 12-year-old granddaughter circulated online. The Wagner Police Department has offered no details on the situation in the video, which was shared at 5:45 a.m. on Sept. 20 and has now been viewed more than 14,000 times […]

The Recovery Runners team prior to the Jack 15 road race on Sept. 23, 2023, in Brookings. (Curt Nettinga, for South Dakota Searchlight)

Running event showcases impact of state’s special courts

BY: - October 2, 2023

BROOKINGS — Brookings resident Gordon Opatz says he was always athletic, but wasn’t a “school athlete.” When life decisions landed him in the Brookings County Drug and DUI Court, he was looking for something he could do to both occupy some time and improve his life. “I started running for some exercise,” Opatz said Sept. […]

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

State to pay inmate in federal excessive force lawsuit

BY: - September 26, 2023

The state of South Dakota will pay $6,000 to an inmate who represented himself in a lawsuit over his assault by a correctional officer in 2022. The settlement, filed this week in federal court, comes on the heels of a state-level trial at which a jury convicted the officer of simple assault. Shawn Albrecht was […]

A sunrise silhouette of the entrance to the Wounded Knee Massacre memorial in South Dakota. (Getty Images)

Wounded Knee Massacre monument vandalized, damaged

BY: - September 20, 2023

A monument erected over a century ago to honor tribal leaders killed in the Wounded Knee Massacre was broken and vandalized earlier this month on the Pine Ridge Reservation. A decorative element resembling an urn was pulled off the top of the monument, despite being held in place by a pin or rod. The element […]

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

State officials: Specialty parole unit helps trim fugitive parolee numbers in half

BY: - September 11, 2023

An effort by state and local agencies to capture fugitives from parole has nearly halved the number of such “absconders” tracked by the South Dakota Department of Corrections. The Absconder Apprehension Unit was formed last December and began its work in January, around six months after the launch of a collaborative group called Safe South […]

A forensic analyst removes a pair of underwear from an evidence bag for testing in a sexual assault case in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston. Texas is among at least 40 states and the District of Columbia that have implemented or committed to establishing a rape kit tracking system, according to the End the Backlog website run by the nonprofit Joyful Heart Foundation. (Pat Sullivan/The Associated Press)

Sexual assault survivors can now track rape kits in most states, but not SD

BY: - September 10, 2023

It can take hours for a sexual assault victim to undergo the multiple swabs, hair samples, blood and urine collections, and other invasive procedures of a sexual assault examination. And then it can take months, sometimes years, for investigators to process that evidence kit. But now, responding to demands from survivors and their advocates, more […]

The Pennington County Courthouse and jail complex in Rapid City, in June 2023. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Rapid City prosecutors inch toward decision in year-old homicide of transgender woman

BY: - September 7, 2023

Prosecutors in Rapid City have connected with the family of Acey Morrison, a transgender Native American woman shot to death more than a year ago by a man who says he shot her in self-defense. Pennington County State’s Attorney Lara Roetzel met with Morrison’s family to discuss the case this week, spokeswoman Katy Urban told […]

Blurred hands are typing on a laptop computer in the dark with illuminated keyboard and illegible mystic program code visible on the screen.

Jackley calls for study and new laws to protect children from AI exploitation

BY: - September 5, 2023

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley and colleagues from 53 states and territories are asking congressional leaders to create an expert panel on how artificial intelligence is to used to exploit children. “Artificial intelligence has its benefits, but there is also potential for serious harm that we are now experiencing with several investigations in South […]