South Dakota Gov. Noem Terminates Top State Pen. Officials
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has made a decision in regards to two leaders at the South Dakota State Penitentiary.
In a statement on Thursday, July 15th, Governor Noem announced that she has terminated State Penitentiary Warden Darin Young and Deputy Warden Jennifer Dreisk. This comes after the continued investigation of the South Dakota State Penitentiary by the South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources.
A new press release from Governor Noem's office confirms, "Deputy Secretary Doug Clark has stepped in as acting warden until a longer-term interim can be named." In a new development, Director of Pheasantland Industries, (the in-house work program for inmates) Stefany Bawek has also been placed on administrative leave.
Dakota News Now is reporting that these "firings come after an anonymous complaint about working conditions that spurred a state investigation of the prison. Dakota News Now first reported on the complaint back in May." Two top state penitentiary officials incurred disciplinary actions. Darin Young was placed on administrative leave this past Tuesday along with Corrections Secretary Mike Leidholt. As of right now, there is no update on Mike Leidholt's status.
In the meantime, Interim Secretary of Corrections Tim Reisch, Bureau of Human Resources Commissioner Darin Seeley, and Secretary of Social Services Laurie Gill are continuing their efforts to support this ongoing investigation.
As indicated in a previous report, the investigation began after an anonymous letter addressed multiple troublesome issues at the State Penitentiary including poor staff morale and less than desirable procedures. Complaints in the letter mentioned problems with pay, benefits, equipment, and training. There are other reports about employees expressing their concerns about inadequate staffing at the penitentiary as well as mandatory overtime shifts.
Stay with our news partners at Dakota News Now for further details on this developing story.