SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem’s call to start laying the groundwork for a possible new penitentiary in South Dakota is gaining interest from both lawmakers and law enforcement. During her budget address on Tuesday, Noem called for millions of dollars to get the process going.

Noem is calling for $52-million to purchase land and for engineering and designing a new penitentiary. She says the current facility in Sioux Falls has been outdated and overcrowded for years. If the legislature okays the funding, the question then becomes where to build and how big?

Parts of the South Dakota penitentiary date back to frontier days, making it one of the oldest facilities of its type in the country. And the pen is showing its age.

“I’ve been up there a lot through my career. It needs updating,” Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Daniel Haggar said.

Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Daniel Haggar says the penitentiary needs to be a safe place for both staff and inmates. He says a modern facility is crucial in getting inmates on a path toward rehabilitation.

“There’s a lot of sad circumstances that have led an individual to be incarcerated in the pen. They’ve violated serious laws in our state. A lot of times there’s a victim and there’s a big impact. It’s important that these facilities are quality facilities, Haggar said.

State Senator Reynold Nesiba says preliminary work of site selection and design will take multiple years. The state would also have to factor in the number of inmates to be housed at a new facility.

“What do we expect our prison population to be over the next ten years and maybe over the next 20 years, to make sure that we are building adequate capacity into this. So, it’s a huge investment but one that we do need to make,” Nesiba said.

A state task force earlier this year recommended building a new facility to replace the Sioux Falls penitentiary in order to address issues like overcrowding and security risks as well as support services for mental health and addiction.

“The vast majority of people we put into that penitentiary are going to come out again and it’s important that we do programs to make sure that they can be all they can be, so they can develop their own lives and be good citizens,” Nesiba said.

The South Dakota Department of Corrections has issued a statement saying: we look forward to working with the legislature to secure funding to move forward with a modern state penitentiary.