South Dakota State Penitentiary

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South Dakota State Penitentiary
South Dakota Pen 2.jpg
The prison from the west, as it looks today
Location Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Coordinates 43°34′01″N 96°43′30″W / 43.56694°N 96.72500°W / 43.56694; -96.72500Coordinates: 43°34′01″N 96°43′30″W / 43.56694°N 96.72500°W / 43.56694; -96.72500
Status Open
Security class Maximum, Medium, Minimum
Opened 1881

The South Dakota State Penitentiary is a state prison located in South Dakota's largest city, Sioux Falls, and holds the state's most deadly and dangerous criminals, as well as sex offenders. It was built in 1881. The building's industry shop makes several things for the state, including woodwork and license plates. The State Penitentiary also houses South Dakota's death row for men and the state's only execution chamber.[1]

History[edit]

The South Dakota State Penitentiary is located in northern Sioux Falls, occupying approximately thirty acres. First constructed as a territorial prison in 1881, it became the South Dakota State Penitentiary when South Dakota was granted statehood in 1889. Though a large portion of the original buildings remain, numerous structural changes have occurred over the years. The main Penitentiary facility contains three housing units. The G. Norton Jameson Annex began housing inmates in February 1993. The Jameson Annex contains three housing units within a secure perimeter and a minimum security unit known as Unit C, which is located outside the perimeter fence.

Inmate employment within the Penitentiary falls into two basic categories; institutional support and prison industries. Institutional support includes those employed in food service, as clerks for various departments, as cell orderlies and those working in maintenance. Prison Industries consists of upholstery, printing, sign, decal, license plates, carpentry, book bindery, machine shop, Braille unit, garments and data entry. All but the garment and data entry work is done at the Penitentiary. Most of the work is done for government agencies. Inmates are offered literacy, Adult Basic Education and GED classes.

The penitentiary was designed by Wallace A. Dow and constructed in 1882. The warden’s residence was completed in 1884. In the 1890s, prisoners quarried stone to build a wall to enclose the prison yard. In 1881, Richard Pettigrew lobbied for and succeeded in getting a federal appropriation to construct the jail in Sioux Falls, which can be seen from the Big Sioux River.[2]

On April 12, 2011, Correctional Officer Ronald "R.J." Johnson was bludgeoned to death by two inmates who were trying to escape. Both inmates were arrested within the confines of the prison grounds.[3] They were subsequently sentenced to death.[4] A third convict was sentenced to life imprisonment for providing materials in the killing. The first convict, Eric Robert, was executed successfully on October 16, 2012 using South Dakota's new single-drug lethal injection method.[5]

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