inmate work program
Governor's house project
In the spring of 1996, Governor Bill Janklow initiated the Governor’s Affordable House Project. This project was an effort to provide elderly South Dakotan’s a house they could easily maintain and manage in their Golden Years, while continuing to live in the community where they had spent their lives. The spin-off benefit would be that the elderly person would in turn sell their present larger home to a younger family so they also would be able to stay in the community and enjoy the pride of home ownership.
Another factor driving the housing project was a strong belief by the Governor that if inmates are given a marketable skill, they have a greater opportunity to succeed once they are released. Teaching inmates the value of work makes them productive members of society and helps reduce recidivism.
The first houses were built at the West Farm in Sioux Falls. Those first test houses were a small two-bedroom, 624 square foot prototype. The feedback from that initial offering was that the homes needed to be a little larger. The size of the houses has since been expanded. There is also a 12-hundred square foot design that is used as a daycare unit or as special housing units provided to the Indian reservations.
As the house program grew in popularity, it became apparent that the use of minimum-security inmates as a workforce would either be inadequate to meet the demand or that other community service work would have to be discontinued. Recognizing the largest percentage of unemployed prisoners is behind the walls, the Governor instructed the South Dakota Housing Authority (SDHA) to move the project headquarters to Mike Durfee State Prison (MDSP) in Springfield. Over time at MDSP, the fence was expanded to the north and the project was able to expand by constructing 72 pads to build house on. The work force has also increased from the original 12-man crew that started at the West Farm to more than a 140-inmate crew.
The homes are of standard stick built construction on specially designed floor trusses that ensure durability when the units are transported to the purchaser. The home conforms to all recognizable building standards. Construction professionals supervise the construction.
The state electrical and plumbing inspectors visit the housing project regularly. All homes are certified prior to transport to the buyer location.
Click on the picture(s) below to see a larger version.
Inmates constructing houses at Mike Durfee State Prison.