The warden of the South Dakota Women's Prison in Pierre resigned Tuesday, the day after nine inmates walked away from the prison's minimum-security unit.
Wanda Markland resigned Tuesday and Darren Berg has been named interim warden, Maggie Seidel, spokeswoman for Gov. Kristi Noem, confirmed Wednesday.
Markland became warden in August 2018 and Berg most recently worked as a deputy warden at the prison, according to his LinkedIn page.
Seidel said she couldn't comment on why Markland resigned.
Markland resigned the day after nine inmates fled the minimum-security unit and the state announced that a woman from that unit tested positive for COVID-19.
Four of the escapees have already been found. Three were detained on the Crow Creek Reservation while a fourth was booked into the Pennington County Jail after being arrested in Rapid City. That woman is awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test; it's unclear if she was given the test while in Pierre or only once she arrived in Rapid City.
Several inmates and their loved ones told the Journal Wednesday that some corrections officers have not been showing up to work at the women's prison, causing other COs to work extra-long shifts.
Seidel said the Department of Corrections has had system-wide "staffing challenges" in recent years, but can't comment on whether staffing has been impacted at the women's prison in recent days.
— Contact Arielle Zionts at email@example.com.
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