SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Land for a new men’s state prison in South Dakota is set to be purchased in Lincoln County.

In a news release Friday afternoon, the South Dakota Department of Corrections announced it agreed to purchase two 160-acre parcels of land in rural Lincoln County. The land is located on the western side of the corner of 477th and 278th Street.

The land is already owned by the state of South Dakota through the Office of School and Public Lands. State law allows Schools and Public Lands to transfer property to another government entity for the appraised value.

Earlier on Friday, the two-member South Dakota Board of Appraisal assigned appraised values that total about $8 million for more than 300 acres in Lincoln County. The South Dakota Commissioner of School and Public Lands Brock Greenfield said “it’s now up to the DOC (S.D. Department of Corrections) to contemplate their actions.” Less than two hours later, the DOC announced it would purchase the land.

Greenfield and State Auditor Rich Sattgast are the two members of the South Dakota Board of Appraisal. The board’s duty Friday was to set the appraised price on two separate 160 acres parcels (Township 99N Range 49W SE¼ of Section 30 ≈ 160 Acres and Township 99N Range 49W NE¼ of Section 31 ≈ 160 Acres.) 

The first tract or tract I was assigned an appraised value of about $4 million or $25,200 per acre. The second tract or tract 2 was assigned an appraised value of about $3.8 million or $24,237 per acre.

Sattgast said the difference in the appraised prices was that tract 2 has more rolling hills while tract 1 has more flat land.

Democratic Rep. Linda Duba told KELOLAND News the land being discussed at Firday’s meeting is owned by the state and could be used by the DOC for a new men’s prison. 

“It’s a win-win. We’re getting over 300 acres so that’s excellent,” said Duba, who represents District 15 in Sioux Falls where the current State Penitentiary is located. “It’s in a location that is south of Sioux Falls and within that window that we were looking at.”  

Duba was referring to a DOC Request for Information for land within 20 miles of Sioux Falls for a new men’s prison. The project details said the new prison would have 400+ employees, cost $500-$600 million, be built on 100-200 acres and heavy industrial or agricultural use zoning would be preferred to reduce potential impacts. 

In a news release, Secretary of Corrections Kellie Wasko said the site is best choice to support the state’s public safety needs, minimizes the impact on community growth and keeps us close to available workforce

“We appreciate Governor Noem’s leadership, the Legislature’s financial support and Commissioner Greenfield’s work to secure this land for the state’s public safety needs for generations to come,” Wasko said in a news release.

Noem said in July the state’s $96.8 million budget surplus can be used for future prison construction costs.

The location of the new men’s prison is roughly five miles south of Harrisburg and eight miles northwest of Canton. The land is located along 278th Street and 477th Avenue in the Dayton Township.

“It meets the criteria that we need,” Duba said. “The most important thing is we will be able to build the modern corrections facility that both the employees and the inmates will benefit from.” 

In June, Michael Winder, a DOC spokesman, told KELOLAND News Architecture Incorporated, HDR and CGL were selected to provide design services, while Henry Carlson and JE Dunn were selected to provide construction manager services. 

Winder said in June the exact price of a new men’s prison won’t be known until the land and design is completed in 2023. 

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken publicly called for the new prison to be built outside of city limits.

Wasko, who took over as DOC Secretary in Feb. 2022, told state lawmakers the 140-year State Penitentiary had done its time. 

“It’s unsafe and it’s inefficient to staff,” Wasko said on Feb. 22. “It’s got the highest vacancy rate and the highest overtime and double-time expenses as well.” 

Wasko also said there’s been $30 million spent on maintenance and repair at the State Pen since Fiscal Year 2013. 

This past legislative session, lawmakers passed and Gov. Noem signed House Bill 1016 ($60 million for a new Rapid City-based women’s prison) and HB-1017 ($52 million for land and design as well as transferring $290 million for a new Sioux Falls-based men’s prison). 

What will happen to the old State Penitentiary building?

Sitting atop a bluff overlooking the Big Sioux River in northern Sioux Falls stands one of the state’s most historic buildings – the South Dakota State Penitentiary. 

Built in 1881, eight years before South Dakota was granted statehood, the State Pen is still managed by the DOC but upon moving to a new prison it would be decommissioned by the DOC and fall under the authority of the Bureau of Administration.

DOC officials said earlier this year other areas of the State Penitentiary campus would be used in the future, including the Jameson Prison Annex. The Sioux Falls Minimum Center would also continue to be used as a reentry center, while Pheasantland Industries would move with the new state prison.