This is a story produced in the Yankton.net online paper. The idea is to get prisoners who have plenty of time on their hands to transcribe all the data in the public records. Seems like an excellent line of work for them to me. Wish it could be done everywhere!
In a nearby area, Kelli Tjeerdsma works with inmates microfilming documents for long-term preservation. Tjeerdsma works with the microfilm unit of the South Dakota State Historical Society.
The inmates' microfilm work includes the state's newspapers, historical documents, census cards, vital records and work for state agencies, Tjeerdsma said. Some of the microfilmed items date back to the 1800s. The side of one box says it contains material from the Dakota Territory District Court clerk of courts from Yankton County.
Not all of the work is historical, Tjeerdsma said, as one of the projects alphabetizes voter-registration lists. While such a task can be tedious, the inmates seem to enjoy the work and do a good job, she said.
New technology has helped in getting all of the work done, but it still takes elbow grease, Tjeerdsma said.
"We have 16 inmates and two staff members, one besides myself," she said. "There's quite a demand. We have seen twice the work during just the last two years."