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More than quarter of Rapid City women's prison land purchase is not 'buildable'

Rapid City prison land.jpg
CJ Keene
South Dakota lawmakers are considering building a new women's prison on an undeveloped plot of land in northeast Rapid City.

State lawmakers are learning more about a proposed women’s prison in Rapid City. A bill to construct the prison is before the legislature this year.

Last year, the state purchased a 20-acre plot to build the new facility.

However, a quarter of the land is not usable for construction.

The mostly minimum-security, 308-bed facility will be built on a piece of land near Rushmore Crossing—a popular shopping destination in the northeast part of town.

The shopping center is also near Interstate 90.

Last year, lawmakers appropriated $3.8 million for the state to purchase the property, which was done in April.

Department of Corrections Secretary Kellie Wasko started in May. She says after the land was surveyed they found out less than 15 acres of the property is buildable.

“It did kind of put some constraints on our one-level living for the female institution,” Wasko said. “We’re actually bumping it up to two levels in the cell houses.”

Lawmakers are looking to spend $60 million to construct the new women’s prison.

Wasko said changing bed counts were factors into purchasing the land. The count went from 100 to 300.

The state is also looking to spend nearly $290 million for a new men’s prison in Sioux Falls. Wasko said the Department of Corrections will be closer in its estimation for that facility.

“I changed the bed count. The projection also changed the bed count. That will explain also why we’re looking at a little bit more due diligence for a larger land purchase for House Bill 1017,” Wasko said.

Hearings have not been set for either bill.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.