Codington County Detention Center sees low inmate population

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For the past three months COVID-19 has kept the population at the Codington County Detention Center lower than normal.

Sheriff Brad Howell says it's a safety measure, and the staff has responded accordingly.

"COVID-19 has definitely been a change for law enforcement and also in our facility here in our jail," said Codington County Sheriff Brad Howell.

The inmate population usually hovers around 76 to 77 people.

"Back in March when COVID really started to hit South Dakota here, within a couple of days our population dropped significantly," said Sheriff Howell.

At one point numbers dropped to just more than 30 inmates.

"A lot of that had to do with the courts. The courts were kicking people out that were on work release," said Howell.

Allowing the low risk inmates to leave was strictly a safety measure.

"For obvious reasons we can't have inmates leaving our facility, possibly getting the virus, then spreading it among the confined spaces of our facility," said Howell.

Chief Corrections Officer Matt Blackwelder says incoming inmates are now screened before entering.

"If you were to come to jail today you have to get your temperature taken, you know the COVID screening, ask you questions," said Chief Corrections Officer Matt Blackwelder.

The staff inside the jail has responded positively.

"Staffs responded really well, they all work together, it's kind if like a big family, I think it's gone really well," Blackwelder said.

Sheriff Howell, Chief Corrections Officer Blackwelder, and the rest of the staff say they will continue to protect themselves and the inmates for as long as needed.