LINCOLN COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) – Sam Eiesland lives near the proposed site of a new men’s prison in Lincoln County between Harrisburg and Canton. His connection to that land runs deep; not only was he born and raised on it, but he also presently farms it.
“We aren’t saying that we don’t need a new men’s prison,” he said. “We aren’t saying that a new men’s prison can’t be in Lincoln County. But let’s put it where the industry is supposed to go. Let’s put it in the corridors.”
Eiesland is a board member of the group NOPE, which stands for “neighbors opposing prison expansion.” He says they are about making voices heard.
“We’re standing up for what’s right, for our community, for our children, for their livelihoods,” Eiesland said.
Michelle Jensen also lives close to the proposed prison and points to investments in the area.
“I think it’s detrimental to our property values,” Jensen said. “I think it’s detrimental to the investment that our, my husband and I have in this property. I think it’s detrimental for everyone’s investment around here.”
NOPE held a meeting on Tuesday night with Lincoln County commissioners; Jensen and Eiesland were present. Attendees made clear their hope for clarity about what other locations were considered for the prison. County commissioner Joel Arends shared that health care and transportation costs for inmates would be the responsibility of the state. He and fellow commissioner Jim Jibben told the group they were not in favor of the state selecting the site.
“The biggest takeaway is that people want some answers, and they would like us to answer some of these questions that they have,” Jibben said. “And the problem is, we haven’t had any communication from the State or the Department of Corrections and those in authority on the particular site that was selected, was there a first choice, second choice of a location.”
South Dakota Department of Corrections Secretary Kellie Wasko said in a statement released on Oct. 6 when the site was announced that the location “is the best choice for a modern correctional facility that supports our state’s public safety needs, minimizes the impact on community growth, and keeps us close to available workforce.”