Inmates Help with Flood Preparations

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.-With more possible flooding on the way, some inmates from the South Dakota State Penitentiary are pitching in to help out around Sioux Falls.

Since 1996, the state’s department of corrections has had a system in place for inmates to help out with different disasters and projects. On Tuesday 24 minimum security inmates helped fill sandbags for the City of Sioux Falls.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time and over the years with the disasters that we’ve been on, the inmate participation has been incredible. These guys get out, they work hard, they do what they’re asked to do, very little issues,” said Chad Rotert, Major for Department of Corrections.

The city has equipment that helps with the sandbagging process. The inmates hold a bag up, push on a pedal and it fills the bags and they tie them up and load them onto palettes. They can get a lot done in just an hour.

“Knowing we did all this, you know. It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of bags. I probably did like 50 myself,” said inmate Joel Galan.

They feel even better knowing they’re doing something positive.

“It’s a workout you know, but it’s fun and it feels good to know I’m doing something good for the community. You know, given my circumstances, it feels like I’m doing the right thing now,” said Galan.

These inmates are a part of the Inmate Work Program. The work experiences are meant to provide them with the tools and skills to make them productive members of the community when they are released.

“It really does feel good. I’m proud of these guys. I’m proud of myself and you know it’s a good feeling,” said Galan.

Over the years the inmates have been involved in many natural disaster cleanups.

“Whether it be tornado, flooding, we have crews that work out in the Black Hills with all the fire crews out there helping out at the Black Hills,” said Rotert.

Inmates are deployed at the request of public safety or the office of the governor with the goal to help restore communities. With a possible flood coming, these inmates are making sure there will be plenty of sandbags to combat the water.

Aside from Sioux Falls, there are also inmate response teams in Yankton, Rapid City and Pierre.

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