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Fewer South Dakotans Behind Bars; Putting Governor Behind Fence a Priority?

While Governor Kristi Noem feels the need to lock herself up behind a fence, the state is locking fewer people up in its prisons. The Legislative Research Council’s latest prison population report says South Dakota had 3.4% fewer people in the pokey after three months of Noem/Ravnsborgism than it did in April 2019.

LRC, "Prison Population Data and Trends: April 2019," 2019.05.30.
LRC, “Prison Population Data and Trends: April 2019,” 2019.05.30.

Following an anomalous bump in January, Noem and Ravnsborg have overseen a continuation of the prison depopulation trend that began last August, after our prison head count peaked above 4,000 in July.

SD Adult Prison Population, April 2016–April 2019
LRC, 2019.05.30

Now I’ll acknowledge that we might all be safer if we arrested and incarcerated fewer people and just put Kristi Noem behind a really high wall. And maybe more cons on the street are making Governor Noem think she needs her super-duper six-figure fence around her mansion.

But while the fake-conservative SDGOP spin blog makes its predictable excuses for Noem’s lavish and unnecessary spending on personal whims (“overall security at the Governor’s residence has not been improved for South Dakota’s first family in over 30 years,” Pat Powers wheezes, while failing to offer any argument that overall threats to any elected officials have increased amidst a decades-long trend of lower crime rates), the somewhat more reliably conservative Senator Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton) tweets that some public goods might deserve first crack at Kristi’s fence-mad money:

Senator Stace Nelson, tweet, 2019.06.01.
Senator Stace Nelson, tweet, 2019.06.01.

Candidate Noem bragged about not planning to live in the Governor’s Mansion full-time, anyway, so you tell me what’s important: putting up a $400,000 fence to protect her sleeping bag and Pop Tarts while she’s away on her long Castlewood weekends, or patching the local roads that regular South Dakotans drive and do commerce on every day?


  1. 96Tears 2019-06-02 10:25

    Perhaps it dawned on Empress Kristi that signing the state concealed carry law wasn’t such a smart idea after all. She’ll get taxpayers to foot the bill for her protection fence because she was so dumb. Who’ll pay for mine because she was so dumb?

  2. Owen 2019-06-02 10:28

    On this I agree with Stace. Happy to see he feels this way

  3. Sharon Neva 2019-06-02 11:28

    But, one of the arguments against the Hemp Farm Bill was that it was going to cost $1.2 million. So, she got a million dollars for her precious pheasants. Now she wants a $400,000 fence around a public building, (where she doesn’t live.) if my math is correct, $1,000,000 plus $400,000 = $1.4 million ( I’m not even gonna add the cost for the bounty on predators of her precious pheasants). The Hemp Bill would of been a big boost to our agricultural community. We could of had “South Dakota” grown CBD. I’m for the fence if we can lock her in.

  4. Debbo 2019-06-02 20:14

    Want to see what kind of no good other GOP states are down to? 538 has a map of states that have an entirely GOP state government or entirely Democratic. Look at the GOP’s actions and see which ones help the citizens of the state be better, more successful people. Now do the same for the Democratic states. Very interesting.

    (BTW, none of them are building walls around the governor’s residence.)

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-06-03 07:05

    South Dakota can always find money for the things it really wants. Our underfunding of education, roads, health care, etc. comes from poverty of will and imagination, not poverty of pocketbooks.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-06-03 07:08

    Cool link from 538, Debbo! The GOP agenda shows fear and exclusion, just like Kristi’s wall. The Democratic agenda shows reaching out to help people and protect them from discrimination—i.e., taking down fences.

  7. Jad 2019-06-03 08:52

    There are other ways to look at this. Maybe the fence is to lock up the Governor and protect the general public. Maybe the fence is needed so her horses will not roam onto the street.

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