State looks into pen disturbances

Tightened access to tablets caused problems.


SIOUX FALLS (AP) — South Dakota officials said Thursday they will investigate a “disturbance” at a state prison in Sioux Falls that they say resulted in at least one officer getting assaulted the day before.

“I have directed the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation to work with the state Department of Corrections to investigate the disturbance at the State Penitentiary,” South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement.

Jackley said he intends “to prosecute those responsible for any harm done to correctional officers, other inmates, and state property to the fullest extent of the law.”

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said a correctional officer was assaulted Wednesday and taken to a hospital “because of some tablets that were removed from prisoners,” KELO-TV reported.

According to KELO-TV, Noem said she was “extremely proud” of the corrections officers for getting the situation back under control. She added that inmates were using the electronic tablets for “nefarious reasons.”

“They were not being used, in all situations, to just contact home,” Noem said. “They were being used for other purposes that were not good and not legal.”

A memo from March 20 on the Department of Corrections website said tablet communication features — including phone calls, messages and pictures — have been suspended since March 8 on all department tablets statewide due to an “investigation pending resolution.”

Inmates “still have access to wall phones to contact their attorneys and families,” according to the memo.