PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A plan to acquire property next to the South Dakota women’s prison work center at Pierre received endorsement Wednesday from a group of state senators.
The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 9-0 to recommend passage of the legislation and referred it to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.
SB 17 would authorize the state Department of Corrections to spend $910,000 for 6.57 acres including an office building and a metal building directly east of the prison work center along SD 34.
Corrections Secretary Mike Leidholt told senators the Pheasantland Industries embroidery shop and a partnership with a quilting business that employs female inmates would be moved there. Those are now in the main prison building. The metal building would be used for DOC vehicles.
The purpose is “not to add additional housing beds for females,” according to Leidholt. He said the prison houses more than 400 female inmates.
Senator Casey Crabtree asked whether the parcel had been appraised. The Madison Republican is director of economic development for Heartland Consumers Power District.
Leidholt said an appraisal wasn’t done but the price was negotiated down $70,000. The property’s current owner is CAM Rentals LLC. Sharpe Rentals currently has a large assortment of trucks, tractors and other equipment there.
No one else testified.
Seventy more inmates could be employed after the operations are moved, according to Leidholt. “We were eager when this property came for sale and fit our needs next to the prison,” he said.
Senate Democrat leader Troy Heinert of Mission asked Leidholt to confirm the purchase won’t be for more inmate beds. “That’s correct senator,” Leidholt said.
Leidholt told Senator Mike Diedrich, a Rapid City Republican, that the women’s prison has struggled for space to provide more vocational opportunities and re-entry programs.
Leidholt said 64% of the current female inmates are in prison for drug offenses and more than 90% have substance abuse issues.