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.
Corrections Officer Salary in South Dakota
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that during 2012 the average correctional officer salary in South Dakota was $33,420, which came to an average hourly wage of $16.07. Correctional officers in the top ten percent, however, averaged nearly 26% more at $44,940.
According to the South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources, the salary structure is as follows for correctional occupations throughout the state:
- Minimum: $25,184.67
- 5% of Minimum: $26,443.90
- 25% of Range: $28,332.76
- Job Worth: $31,480.84
- Maximum: $37,777.01
- Minimum: $29,910.61
- 5% of Minimum: $31,406.14
- 25% of Range: $33,649.44
- Job Worth: $37,388.26
- Maximum: $44,865.91
- Minimum: $33,041.02
- 5% of Minimum: $34,693.07
- 25% of Range: $37,171.15
- Job Worth: $41,301.27
- Maximum: $49,561.52
- Minimum: $40,735.78
- 5% of Minimum: $42,772.57
- 25% of Range: $45,827.75
- Job Worth: $50,919.72
- Maximum: $61,103.66
The following salaries have been taken from the Department of Labor and are inclusive of corrections officers across South Dakota:
Pierre, South Dakota Corrections Officer Job Description
South Dakota’s capital city of Pierre houses the Solem Public Safety Center. This facility is important to the South Dakota law enforcement and criminal justice community not only because it contains the South Dakota’s Women’s Prison, but also because it is home to:
- The Central Office of the State Department of Corrections
- The Pierre Police Department
- The Hughes County Sheriff’s office
- A State Highway Patrol station
- The State Division of Criminal Investigations
Qualifying to Become a Correctional Officer in Pierre, South Dakota
Education Requirement and Degree Options – Correctional officers in Pierre, South Dakota are required to hold a high school diploma or GED. However, jobseekers that complete degree programs from area colleges and universities greatly increase their opportunities for employment, career advancement and pay raises. Examples of preferred degree fields include:
- Law Enforcement
- Criminal Justice
- Corrections Management
- Law Enforcement Administration
- Case Management
Training for Correctional Officers in Pierre – Correction officers that work with the South Dakota Department of Corrections receive three weeks of mandatory on-the-job training upon hire.
Some examples of typical training topics may include:
- Basic Concepts in Corrections
- Managing Offenders
- Security Issues
- Issues in the Correctional Workplace
- Understanding Ethics and Ethical Behavior
- Professionalism in Corrections
Training options often come in a variety of forms, including:
- Online Courses
After being hired, professional organizations like the American Correctional Association provide great opportunities for those interested in on-going training.
Optional Certification for Correctional Officers
One of the best ways for correctional officers in Pierre to prove professional dedication and competency is to become a certified corrections officer (CCO) through the American Correctional Association. To qualify for the certification examination, applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED. In addition, applicants must have at least one year of work experience as a correctional officer. The examination covers important occupational aspects, including:
- Controlling Offender Movement
- Maintaining Health, Safety and Sanitation
- General Skills and Equipment Control
- Knowledge About Corrections
- Ethics and Law
Once the application is approved, candidates will undergo examination. If the examination is successfully passed, the title of certified corrections officer is granted.
Corrections officers that need re-certification must earn credits participating in job-related activities, such as:
- Training and Education
- Discussion Group
- Committee or Task Force
- Critique or Assessment
- Corrections Compendium
Salary and Job Stability for Correctional Officers in Pierre, South Dakota
Many people pursue corrections officer jobs in Pierre, South Dakota because of the competitive pay, job stability and benefits of this career. Right now, corrections is named among the top twenty best professions in terms of growth and stability.
According to the South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources, most correctional officers start by earning between $14/hr. and $15/hr. After two years of employment, the salary for a correctional officer could rise to over $34,000 annually. Correctional officers that participate in ongoing education, training and certifications may facilitate career advancement to higher paying positions, including:
- Corrections Supervisor
- Corrections Manager
- Corrections Executive
Sioux Falls, South Dakota Corrections Officer Job Description
Sioux Falls has two state correctional facilities within the city limits: the South Dakota State Penitentiary and the Jameson Annex Correctional Facility. The South Dakota State Penitentiary houses 731 inmates, one of which is a federal inmate, and the Jameson Annex has an inmate population of 537, 22 of which are serving federal sentences.
The state penitentiary is the second largest corrections facility in the state, and the Jameson Annex is the third largest correctional facility, after the Mike Durfee State Prison. Both correctional facilities operate under the supervision of the South Dakota Department of Corrections.
Requirements and Qualifications for Corrections Officer Positions
Education Requirements – In order to be considered for correctional officer jobs in South Dakota, an applicant must have at least a high school diploma, GED or an equivalent level of education. Those with a college degree are given special preference during the hiring process, and are encouraged to apply through the South Dakota Department of Corrections.
Other Requirements – All applicants must be at least 18 years of age by the time of employment and must be able to pass a criminal background check. Any applicants with criminal charges or misdemeanors related to violence or drug use will not be considered for the position.
Steps Towards Becoming a Corrections Officer in Sioux Falls
After submitting an application, people looking to become correctional officers at one of the two facilities in Sioux Falls must complete the following steps before enrolling in the training academy and becoming a full-time employee with the South Dakota Department of Corrections:
- Civil Service Examination: All applicants must complete a written examination that consists of true/false, multiple choice, short answer and long-form essay questions regarding decision making capabilities and communication skills, among other criteria.
- Physical fitness test: The physical fitness test will measure an applicant’s’ ability to meet the physical demands of the corrections officer position.
- Interview: An interview with the the Director’s Board at the Department of Corrections will determine if an applicant is qualified to move on in the hiring and training process.
- Medical and psychological examinations: These exams will determine if an applicant is healthy (both physically and mentally) enough to perform to day-to-day tasks of a corrections officer.
- Drug screen and criminal background check: All applicants must pass a drug screen and criminal background check in order to enroll in the training academy.
Once hired, recruits must complete three weeks of intensive training at the South Dakota Department of Corrections Training Academy. During training, new employees will learn defensive tactics, communication skills, surveillance and search techniques, among many other skills, tactics and procedures.
After completing the training academy courses, corrections officers will receive on-the-job training at one of the two facilities in Sioux Falls, and will then be required to complete 40 hours of training every year afterwards.
Springfield, South Dakota Corrections Officer Job Description
Mike Durfee State Prison employs the correctional officers that work in Springfield, South Dakota. Since correctional officers work in close proximity to convicted offenders, job safety is often an occupational concern. Though there are an estimated twenty-four reported assaults in Mike Durfee State Prison each year, these incidents happen exclusively between inmates. Safety protocols are so effective at Mike Durfee that there have been zero staff fatalities within the prison.
Although Springfield is a relatively small community with a population of just under 2,000, correctional officers that work here help to protect the greater population of the state. According to the South Dakota Office of Attorney General, the state’s crime statistics for 2012 included:
- 62,499 offenses
- 15 homicides
- 464 forcible rapes
- 2,835 burglaries
- 5,897 DUI arrests
- 4,584 drug arrests
Becoming a Correctional Officer at Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield
The basic requirements for correctional officer jobs with the South Dakota Department of Corrections include:
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- Must be a United States citizen
- Must be a resident of South Dakota
- Must have a valid drivers license
- Must pass a criminal background check
- Must be a graduate from high school or hold a general equivalency diploma (GED)
Job candidates often hold an associate or bachelor’s degree in relevant fields such as law enforcement, criminal justice or corrections. Having gained some post-secondary education in a related field gives candidates a competitive edge during the hiring process. Even more importantly, however, relevant fields of study help correctional officers better understand how corrections fits into the criminal justice system, as well as giving them a better understanding of their own legal rights and restrictions, inmate handling protocols and relevant civil rights and constitutional considerations for inmates.
Correctional Officer Training – Corrections officers that work in Springfield receive training through the South Dakota Department of Corrections. This training takes place on-the-job after securing employment and lasts for three weeks.
According to the South Dakota Department of Corrections, not only does training cover the policies and procedures specific to the prison, but also teaches common job skills such as:
- The use of restraining devices
- Cell entry procedures
- Inmate shakedowns
Professional Certification Option – Many correctional officers foster career longevity by becoming a certified corrections professional (CCP). Certification often proves professionalism, competency and a long-term dedication to the field. The American Correctional Association is one of the main organizations that offer certification to experienced correctional officers.
Working at Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield, South Dakota
In 1984, the South Dakota Board of Charities and Corrections established Mike Durfee State Prison in Bon Homme County. Though it was originally intended to accommodate women inmate transfers from the Women’s Correctional Facility in Yankton, today the prison houses an all-male population.
The Mike Durfee State Prison is a medium-security prison where inmates are classified as low or medium custody prisoners. The prison’s staff consists 265 full-time employees, including several correctional officers. These officers are responsible for approximately 1,485 inmates even though the stated inmate capacity is 981. In addition, correctional officers from this location may occasionally help to supervise minimum-security inmates detained in Yankton and Rapid City facilities.
Yankton, South Dakota Corrections Officer Job Description
The city of Yankton is located in a rural area in the southeastern corner of South Dakota, about 85 miles southwest of Sioux Falls, the state’s largest metropolitan area. The city is home to the Federal Prison Camp (FPC) Yankton, and is the only federal correctional institution in the state.
FPC Yankton has an inmate population of 487 (capacity is 655) and supports jobs for 107 people, 29 of which are correctional officer jobs. The male-only minimum security institution is the largest federal employer of correctional officers in South Dakota and operates under the supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice.
In 2009, FPC Yankton was named “one of the ten cushiest prisons” in the United States by Forbes Magazine because of its size, location and the amenities that are offered to inmates (including business administration and accounting classes, as well as larger than average jail cells.)
Minimum Requirements and Qualifications in Yankton
Education – In order to be considered for a GS-05 level corrections officer position at FPC Yankton in South Dakota, job applicants must have at least a four-year degree from an accredited university or college. The education requirements can be bypassed if an applicant has at least three years of work experience that relates to assisting, guiding and counseling individuals; working in emergency situations; or in a supervisor or teaching position.
Examples of pertinent work experience include, but are not limited to the following:
- Parole or probation officer
- Social worker
- Emergency medical technician
- Security guard
In order to become a correctional officer in Yankton at the GS-06 grade level, applicants must have nine semester hours, or 14 quarter hours, of college classes in criminology, criminal justice, social science or a similar field. The education requirements can also be bypassed if the applicant has at least one year of experience in a field related to mental health, corrections or similar career fields. Volunteer or internship experience can be applicable in certain circumstances.
Age Requirement – At the time of employment, applicants must be no older than 37 years of age, unless they have previous work experience in federal civilian law enforcement.
Correction officers in South Dakota are required to complete three weeks of paid training at the South Dakota Department of Corrections Training Academy. Through training, correctional officers will learn restraint techniques, search and seizure procedures, department standards, weapons and chemical agent handling, communication skills and report writing, among many other skills, practices and techniques. During attendance at the academy, officers will also become certified to handle and operate firearms and other equipment, CPR and First Aid. After the training academy, officers will receive extensive on-the-job training when placed at FPC Yankton, or any other correctional facility in the state.