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Amid unrest, inmates shout concerns through barbed wire

todayJuly 10, 2024 2

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SPRINGFIELD S.D. (KELO) — Unrest at the Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield, S.D. has meant injuries suffered by inmates as well as staff.

A South Dakota Department of Corrections spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday morning that “several” inmates at the prison fought each other on Tuesday, with six inmates suffering non-life-threatening injuries. Additionally, the spokesperson said some DOC staff suffered minor injuries, but they themselves weren’t assaulted. 

Through barbed wire, fencing and open windows, inmates at the prison on Wednesday shouted their concerns and frustrations to KELOLAND News.

“This is not a fight,” an inmate said. “This is gang war.”

“They said it was a fight there? That’s a lie,” an inmate said.

“It’s not just a fight,” an inmate said.

“It’s a riot on all units,” an inmate said.

“10 ambulances that have left here in the last 24 hours,” an inmate said.

Dan Santella: You guys feel like you’re going to get hurt in there?

“Yes,” an inmate said.

“This place ain’t safe,” an inmate said. “All the gang members run the different units and do whatever they want ’cause this place is understaffed.”

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A public road hugging the prison’s western edge allowed KELOLAND News to simply stand outside the prison and ask questions about what was happening on the other side of the chain-linked fence.

“I watched the fight myself last night … we could see it from the windows over there in the yard, and there was literally 60 total people,” an inmate said.

“They shut off our phones,” an inmate said. “On top of the fact that we already have a lack of communication with our family, now we can’t even call them and let them know that we’re safe, that we’re okay.”

At least in one corner of the prison, the inmates agree about the staffing situation.

Dan Santella: “So the DOC is really understaffed in there?”

“Yes,” several inmates responded.

From this road outside, it’s possible to hear about what it’s like inside without actually seeing it. There’s a call, too, for Department of Corrections Secretary Kellie Wasko to do just that.”You need to tell Kellie Wasko that maybe she should get from behind that desk and come here and see things for herself,” an inmate said.

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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