TYNDALL — Under a plea deal, two inmates won’t face additional jail time for a drug charge inside Mike Durfee State Prison at Springfield.

James Elmer Shaw, 42, and Benjamin Charles Carter, 37, received the sentences Monday in First Circuit Court. They represent the last of the 17 inmates indicted in connection with the 2018 drug bust inside the prison.

Mike Durfee State Prison currently holds around 1,250 inmates and primarily houses low- and medium-security prisoners.

Jury trials for Shaw and Carter were scheduled for Monday in Tyndall, according to Bon Homme County Clerk of Courts Heather Humphrey. The trials were cancelled, and the two defendants entered a change of plea, she said.

The two men pleaded guilty to one charge of inhabiting a room where controlled substances were illegally stored or used. The charge is a Class I misdemeanor, carrying a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment and a $2,000 fine.

Circuit Judge Tim Tucker presided over Monday’s proceedings. He sentenced both defendants to 90 days in county jail, running concurrently (at the same time) as their prison sentences. They will also pay a fine — one was sentenced for $115, the other $121 — to the South Dakota attorney general’s office.

The complaints filed against the two men charge they committed the offense on, about or between the approximate dates of April 17, 2018, and May 31, 2018.

All previous charges were dropped along with habitual offender status, which could have enhanced their sentences.

Shaw and Carter had each previously faced one charge of possession of alcohol or marijuana in the penitentiary, a Class 6 felony, and one charge of ingesting a substance, other than alcohol, for the purpose of becoming intoxicated, a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The Class 6 felony would have carried a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment and $4,000 fine.

Carter is imprisoned at the Springfield facility while Shaw is now imprisoned at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls, Humphrey said. However, the offenses occurred when they were both in Springfield.

A Bon Homme County grand jury indicted the 17 inmates last year on the marijuana charges, all dealing with possession and usage. The court documents and charges didn’t single out the source of the marijuana or how the drugs got inside the prison.

The other cases have moved through the court system, Humphrey said.

South Dakota Assistant Attorney General Lindsey Quasney prosecuted the cases.

These drug cases were investigated by Special Investigations Units at Mike Durfee State Prison and the South Dakota State Penitentiary and prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office.

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(1) comment


So, umm, obvious question here. Just which prison employee(s) were either complicit, or negligent in allowing the drugs to get inside the prison? Why nothing about that?

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