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South Dakota correctional officers getting pay raises

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Kim Jarrett

(The Center Square) - The starting salary for South Dakota correctional officers will increase from $20 an hour to $23.50 an hour beginning immediately, Governor Kristi Noem said Thursday. 

“These permanent pay increases will assist us with recruiting and retaining quality correctional security officers,” Noem said in a news release. “These increases show officers our appreciation for their service to our state. Sec. [Kellie]Wasko and I will continue to focus on solving problems and prioritizing the security of both our correctional officers and the inmates that they manage.”

Security officers will receive raises that will boost their pay to up to $28 an hour, according to the news release. 

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“This is the latest step to improve safety and the overall culture at DOC. We are proud of our corrections employees and grateful for their service,” said Kellie Wasko, Secretary of the Department of Corrections. “Our department has made tremendous progress in the past several months. There is still much work left to do, including newer and safer facilities, and we are committed to getting that accomplished.”

Lawmakers are currently studying the state prison system. At a meeting of the Incarceration Construction Fund Legislative Task Force held last month, the Department of Corrections said a 1,372-bed correctional facility and a new female community work center in Rapid City are needed. 

The state’s inmate population is expected to rise moderately over the next 20 years, according to a report from a consultant.