Heroes Among Us: Correctional Officers at Women's Prison - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Heroes Among Us: Correctional Officers at Women's Prison

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Correctional Officers Paige Underberg and Matt Tibbs at the SD Women's Prison in Pierre. Correctional Officers Paige Underberg and Matt Tibbs at the SD Women's Prison in Pierre.

Most of us know what to expect everyday when we go to work, but that's not the case of the staff working in South Dakota's Prison System. Nancy Naeve Brown went inside the walls of the Women's Prison in Pierre to introduce us to two correctional officers who represent some Heroes Among Us.

The folks at the South Dakota Women's Prison in Pierre want you to know that what you think you know about prisons isn't always the case especially here, especially when the inmates are women.

 "We are more of a program facility, obviously security based is our first priority but we have a lot of programming. The staff searches cells, get ladies ready for visits in the PACT building (parents and children together) and GED classes. It all focuses around programming so we can get these ladies back to the community and hopefully give them the tools so they don't re-offend and come back," Warden Brenda Hyde said.
At any prison, the inmates outnumber the staff, while that is also the case at the here with 374 inmates, the staff of 50 do a number of different jobs that it's almost like triple the staff.  Paige Underberg and Matt Tibbs are both correctional officers. Underberg is fairly new with only 6 months under her belt.  Tibbs has 2 years in it. Both are from Pierre and both like their jobs for different reasons.

 "When you walk through that door you don't know what you're going to get yourself into so it's a surprise everyday working here, but that's what I enjoy," Correctional Officer Underberg said.

"It's always interesting. I always joke the days I don't remember are the good ones. The ones I remember aren't fun. Either there was a cell entry, pull someone out from somewhere. The days I don't remember are the good ones." Correctional Officer Tibbs said.

"You can't walk into this job being scared. You have to know anything can happen walking in to the front sliders. You always have to be on your toes. For the most part, I'm not scared. I know my co-workers will have my back and we are well trained here," Underberg said.

As required by law, you will see more women correctional officers on staff than men because women are the only ones allowed to do pat downs and body searches on the inmates. But again, that's only one of their duties.

"Usually when I come in I'm thinking what's it going to be today? We go from helping out maintenance, changing light bulbs to cell entries, we don't do many, but we could run the entire spectrum of the facility in one day. There have been days that I'm been at every single post in a single day," Tibbs said.

"A lot of times I think people think when inmates come in they are put in their cells and that's not the case. They are going to programs and our staff cares about these ladies making a change. These ladies are going to go back and they'll be your neighbors. We help them by providing tools so they can stay productive members of the community," Warden Brenda Hyde said.

For all you do behind the barbed wire and bars; we salute the correctional officers at the State Women's Prison and recognize that even though most of us will never see you. We appreciate what you do and want you to know you are heroes among us.
If you want to nominate a Hero Among Us, email Nancy Naeve Brown at nnaeve@ksfy.com



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