SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Officials in Lincoln County have requested more information from South Dakota Department of Corrections Secretary Kellie Wasko regarding last week’s announcement of the state’s intention to buy state-owned land to build a new men’s prison.
In a news release sent by Lincoln County Commission Administrative Officer Steve Rasmussen, the five-member governing board says it did not receive advance notice or information regarding the new prison.
“As a key stakeholder, Lincoln County needs further information from the DOC in order to adequately address our community’s concerns in and around this proposed facility,” the news release said. “As well as ensure our Planning and Zoning Department can adequately prepare for this change in land use.”
The new site in Dayton Township in Lincoln County southwest of Harrisburg is to the immediate west of the intersection of 477th Avenue and 278th Street.
The state will buy about 300 acres of land in the school and public trust fund for an appraised value of about $8 million. The DOC announced its intent on Oct. 6 about two hours after the South Dakota Board of Appraisal set the appraised value.
DOC spokesman Michael Winder told KELOLAND News in an email the search for a location of the new men’s prison took 15 months, which included public request for information for land sites near Sioux Falls.
“Over 2,000 people live less than half a mile from the current prison – that number is in the single digits for the new land. Nearly 100,000 people live within a four-mile radius of the current facility,” Winder said.
Lincoln County commissioners said they have received numerous phone calls and emails from community members seeking information about the new prison.
“As a result, the Lincoln County Commission Office made a formal request to the DOC Secretary on behalf of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners to obtain more information on this proposed facility,” the news release said.
The existing prison in Sioux Falls is on about 30 acres. It was built in 1881. State officials and a 2021 study have cited overcrowding and an outdated facility that is beyond repair as reasons for building a new men’s prison.
Winder said the current prison is “horribly out of date, does not meet modern correctional security standards, and cannot expand because Sioux Falls has developed around it.”
Winder said concerns around utilities or infrastructure can be built at the state’s expense and said building the facility on land the state already owns is “fiscally responsible to taxpayer dollars.”
The next Lincoln County Board of Commission meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 8:30 a.m. in Canton. The Lincoln County planning and zoning commission meets on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in Canton. On Monday, the DOC plans to host a groundbreaking for a new women’s prison in Rapid City.
A memo from the Bureau of Finance and Management, said the 308-bed women’s prison in Rapid City would help solve the serious overcrowding problem at the women’s prison in Pierre.