There are 10 correctional facilities in South Dakota, housing a total inmate population of 3,644. It is the responsibility of correctional officers in the state to monitor the inmates and ensure their safety, as well as the safety of the general public.
Of the 10 correctional facilities that operate under the supervision of the South Dakota State Penitentiary division of the Department of Corrections, the largest is the Mike Durfee State Penitentiary. This state pen has an inmate population of 1,189, and supports most of the correctional officer jobs in South Dakota.
There is also one federal penitentiary in the state: Federal Prison Camp- Yankton, which is located 85 miles southwest of Sioux Falls. FPC- Yankton houses 487 inmates and employs 107 correctional officers and administrative staff.
Minimum Requirements and Qualifications
Federal-Level Officers – Applicants interested in learning how to become a correctional officer in South Dakota who wish to work at FPC- Yankton, must have a bachelor’s degree or three years of equivalent work experience in a related field. Applicants must also be no older than 37 years at the time of employment, unless they have previously worked in federal civilian law enforcement prior to applying for the position.
State-Level Officers – In order to obtain a correctional officer job in South Dakota, potential applicants must meet the minimum requirements and qualifications for the position. The requirements and qualifications include the following:
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- Must be a United States citizen
- Must be a resident of South Dakota
- Must pass a criminal background check
- Must have a valid drivers license
- Must have a high school diploma, a GED or an equivalent level of education
Applicants with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, or those with military experience are encouraged to apply and will receive special consideration during the application process. It is preferred, but not necessary, that those with a college degree major in criminal justice, sociology, psychology, counseling or other related fields of study. In some cases, work or volunteer experience in related fields can give an applicant an advantage during the hiring process as well.
Correctional Officer Hiring Process
Once an application is accepted, candidates for the corrections officer position will be given a Civil Service Examination, which consists of a combination of multiple choice, short answer and true/ false questions. If the applicant scores well, they will be interviewed by a panel of representatives from the Department of Corrections, and then be required to pass a physical agility test. Candidates will then be given a medical and psychological exam, a background check and a drug screen before receiving on the job training.
Training to Become a Correctional Officer
Federal-Level Officers – In order to work at FPC- Yankton, recruits are required to complete 200 hours of training during their first year of employment. Additional training is required every year after the first year of employment.
State-Level Officers – During the first year of employment, corrections officers are required to complete 80 hours of training and seminars. During training, employees will learn surveillance techniques, search operations and hot to communicate with inmates, among many other subjects. After the first year, corrections officers are required to complete 40 hours of training each year.
There are many benefits to having a correctional officer career in South Dakota, including three weeks of paid vacation every year, a retirement plan, comprehensive health insurance, life insurance, disability and guaranteed raises each year. The South Dakota Department of Corrections also has payment plans that can help corrections officers pursue a college degree while also working at one of the state’s correctional facilities.