South Dakota State Penitentiary

Participating in an Oct. 16, 2023, groundbreaking for a women's prison in Rapid City are, from left, Rep. Eric Emery, D-Rosebud; Rep. Steve Duffy, R-Rapid City; Rep. Mike Derby, R-Rapid City; Sen. Mike Diedrich, R-Rapid City; Sen. Helene Duhamel, R-Rapid City; and Pennington County Sheriff Brian Mueller. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Corrections secretary: New women’s prison could be filled with addicts on day one

BY: - February 25, 2024

PIERRE – The state’s new women’s prison may well be full when it opens, South Dakota’s corrections secretary said this week, a reality largely attributable to the prevalence of drug abuse in the penal population.  The new prison will free up space for addiction treatment, but the secretary said she’s concerned about the potential for […]

The site plan for a women's prison in Rapid City, as displayed at a groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 16, 2023. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Corrections secretary pushed on ballooning costs for prison projects

BY: - February 21, 2024

PIERRE – Lawmakers peppered the Department of Corrections secretary with questions on Wednesday morning about the growing gap between initial and current price points for two new state prisons. Secretary Kellie Wasko told lawmakers that the state will have a “guaranteed maximum price” in November for the men’s prison. Barring a legal victory by the […]

South Dakota Department of Corrections Director of Finance and Administration Brittni Skipper, left, and DOC Secretary Kellie Wasko address the Joint Appropriations Committee on Jan. 29, 2024, in Pierre. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Short staffing leaves prisons running on overtime

BY: - January 29, 2024

PIERRE – For every pay period, the average correctional officer in a South Dakota prison works an average of 14 overtime hours. That’s an hour more than the last fiscal year and four more than 2022. Those hours will continue to pile up until the Department of Corrections can cut the workforce vacancy rate at […]

The overflow room for a Jan. 22, 2024, court hearing in Canton about the proposed site of a new state penitentiary. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

State: Bowing to local zoning in prison dispute ‘would be an absurd result’

BY: - January 22, 2024

CANTON — The notion that the state of South Dakota needs county permission to build a state penitentiary is absurd, a lawyer representing the state Department of Corrections said Monday. That argument from Assistant Attorney General Grant Flynn came during a Monday hearing at the Lincoln County Courthouse in a lawsuit that aims to scuttle […]

A semi truck carries haybales painted with "NO PEN" through the Canton Parade of Lights on Dec. 2, 2023. The new state penitentiary is planned to be built near the community. (Makenzie Huber, South Dakota Searchlight)

Price tag for new prisons, already historic, could grow significantly

BY: - January 4, 2024

Early in 2023, the South Dakota Legislature budgeted $60 million for a new women’s prison in Rapid City. The state also set aside $330.9 million to start work on a new men’s prison to replace the aging state penitentiary in Sioux Falls. Then, in December, Gov. Kristi Noem surprised some lawmakers by saying the women’s prison […]

The South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, as seen on Jan. 9, 2023. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Minnehaha County defense lawyers say state is working to resolve inmate client access issue

BY: - January 3, 2024

Public defenders in South Dakota’s largest city have worked through a tentative compromise with the state Department of Corrections on access to inmate clients.

A sign opposing the proposed prison site in Lincoln County, SD, as seen at a community meeting in Harrisburg, SD on Dec. 21, 2023. (Josh Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Lincoln County votes to support landowner position in prison site lawsuit

BY: - December 26, 2023

CANTON — Lincoln County officials want a judge to decide if the state has the right to build a prison in the county without public input or local review. On Tuesday, county commissioners voted to submit a legal argument in support of the landowners who’ve sued the state Department of Corrections, though the scope of […]

The G. Norton Jameson Annex at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Defense lawyers decry wait times, pat-down searches at penitentiary

BY: - December 3, 2023

Defense attorneys in South Dakota’s most populous county are at odds with the state Department of Corrections over problems with client access they say raise civil rights questions and cost taxpayers money. An advisory group for public defenders in Minnehaha County discussed the problem during a Tuesday meeting with County Commissioner Joe Kippley, the commission’s […]

The site selected for the new South Dakota State Penitentiary in Lincoln County. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Landowners sue to put prison site in front of county zoning board

BY: - November 6, 2023

The state should ask for Lincoln County’s permission before building a new prison there, according to a lawsuit from a group of landowners. The lawsuit was filed in Lincoln County late last week by a recently formed group called “Neighbors Opposed to Prison Expansion” — or the acronym NOPE for short — as well as […]

COMMENTARY
The site selected for the new South Dakota State Penitentiary in Lincoln County. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Tough to evaluate other penitentiary location options without transparency

BY: - October 31, 2023

South Dakota is finally moving forward on the long overdue replacement of its men’s penitentiary near downtown Sioux Falls. It announced a new site and a timeline for the move. However, the process for selecting a replacement site has raised questions and concerns from the public. In recent decades, downtown Sioux Falls has grown into […]

The site selected for the new South Dakota State Penitentiary in Lincoln County. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

State’s selection of prison site upsets Lincoln County neighbors

BY: - October 6, 2023

The multimillion-dollar replacement for the South Dakota State Penitentiary is set to appear on farm ground south of Harrisburg in Lincoln County.  County commissioners have known that the site was under consideration for at least six weeks. Some state lawmakers who represent the area have known for longer. Sarah Ulmer, who lives half a mile […]

The minimum security center of the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, pictured on Feb. 16, 2023. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

State to pay inmate in federal excessive force lawsuit

BY: - September 26, 2023

The state of South Dakota will pay $6,000 to an inmate who represented himself in a lawsuit over his assault by a correctional officer in 2022. The settlement, filed this week in federal court, comes on the heels of a state-level trial at which a jury convicted the officer of simple assault. Shawn Albrecht was […]