Regional prison board will move to three SD cities

Pierre, SD (degree) – South Dakota legislators Study regional prisons He will be visiting Aberdeen, Sioux Falls and Vermillion later this year.

These choices will give the committee a chance to see Brown County’s proposal for a joint facility that would also help the South Dakota Department of Corrections relieve overcrowding at the state’s women’s prison in Pierre.

State legislators also want to hear from county commissioners across the 15-county region about what works and what doesn’t work in South Dakota’s current laws regarding county agreements for regional prisons.

Lawmakers will see the relatively new Minhaa County Jail in Sioux Falls and the old Clay County Jail in Vermillion.

The committee held its first meeting Thursday in Pierre. The next meeting is on Wednesday, July 20 and the third, August 22. The group returns to Pierre for the last meeting on September 20.

The committee’s chair, Senator Jim Stalzer, R Sioux Falls, approved two trips from pro-Senate Speaker Lee Schoenebeck, Watertown, the legislature’s executive chairman who appointed the committee.

Some Western South Dakota lawmakers on the committee, including Rep. Mary Fitzgerald, R-Spearfish, Senator Helen Duhamel, R-Rapid City, Representative Becky Drury, R-Rapid City, Rapid City and Deadwood in place of Sioux Falls and Vermillion.

Stalzer made what he described as an “executive decision” for the three East South Dakota cities after none of the committee members came forward with a motion.

Committee listened Overview From Codington County Commissioner Lee Gabel and a motion for A joint state and county facility From Brown County Commissioner Mike Wise will be part of the transformation A pre-cast fiberglass building in the Aberdeen Industrial Estate.

Gabel said 41 of South Dakota’s 66 counties contract beds or rent space in other county prisons rather than continuing to operate their own prisons. The average prison population in 2021 was 1980 per day, compared to 383 in 1985. “I think you can see the way that trend is going,” Gabel said.

Staci Ackermann, executive director of the South Dakota Police Association, said counties are working together to find solutions. The issues are public funding and how much a Contracting State will contribute to the capacity project. “With 41 counties without a prison, every prison is a provincial prison,” she said.

Ackerman said the current statewide capacity of 2,512 beds for adults in county prisons doesn’t mean they can hold that many prisoners, because men have to be separate from women, and there are different levels of offenders.

Deputy Sheriff Jeff Gromer said the 579-bed Minhaha County Jail primarily houses inmates from Minhaca and Lincoln counties and is renting space to other counties. He said another floor is available with the possibility of 148 extra beds. He described the prison’s financial situation as a “break-even point at best”. The bed fee of $95 per night is the highest in South Dakota.

“Most people don’t come to prison once,” Gromer noted. “We see the same people over and over again.”

Senator Al Nofstrup, R Aberdeen, lobbied the committee to make the trip to Brown County. He said the Brown County Jail serves a 15-county district. “It’s critical to that entire northeastern corner of the state,” Novstrup said. “Our main desire is to show you the future, not the past.”

The first witness was Kelly Wasko, who worked for 93 days as the new Secretary of Corrections for South Dakota. It oversees a state government prison system that recently averaged about 3,400 male and female offenders – 190% of designed capacity – with more than 3,400 other offenders on parole.

Wasko said a recent external study projected that female prisoners would range between 480 and 503 by 2026. Last week, it said, there were more than 500 in a facility designed for 322. A second legislative committee has been appointed to advise on the department’s investments. in new facilities.

Female prisoners need more beds with minimal security, while male prisoners need more nursery beds, Wasco says. Stalzer asked which provincial prisons were taking some of them. Wasko replied, “We are not currently using any of the provincial prison excesses.” She said state law gives the department that authority but that state “partners” at the county level cannot absorb any of it.

“I need a relief factor of 200 to 250 in the female facility and much larger in the male facility,” Wasko said.

Leave a Comment