Inmates relax in a cell block at the South Dakota women's prison in Pierre, S.D. in this file photo. The inmates were notified of a tour by reporters and were given the option of leaving an area while photos and video were taken.

(The Center Square) - A consultant recommended 18 new corrections facilities in South Dakota with a price tag of $608.2 million. 

The DLR Group listed 18 recommendations in a report to the Incarceration Construction Fund Legislative Task Force. Among the projects listed are a new 1,372-bed multi-custody correctional facility to replace the South Dakota State Penitentiary. It would cost about $338.5 million and take about 33 months to build, according to the report.

“This facility would not only replace the SDSP but also provide relief for the Mike Durfee State Prison (MDSP), and significantly improve SDDOC’s ability to care for inmates identified as suffering from mental and behavioral health, chronic health, and mobility issues,” the report said.

The Department of Corrections’ list of recommendations is much shorter.

Secretary of the Department of Corrections Kellie Wasko told the task force Tuesday her two priorities among those listed in the DLR Group report is the 1,372-bed correctional facility and a new female community work center in Rapid City. However, she recommended that the women's facility should hold 200 beds instead of 100 as was recommended in the report. DLR Group estimated the cost of a new 100-bed facility would be around $18.7 million with construction time at about 22 months.

The DOC also wants to expand the medical services area at the South Dakota Women’s Prison. Senate Bill 33 already approved the funding for this, according to Wasko. She said construction is set to begin in Fall 2023 and an application for American Rescue Plan funds is in progress.

South Dakota’s prison population is expected to see a moderate increase over the next two decades, according to the report. It said statewide staffing issues could potentially be met by building new facilities to replace the ones that don’t have enough staff to operate efficiently.

Wasko said the main goal of her recommendations isn’t to add more beds to house more inmates, but to better accommodate the numbers already incarcerated.