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Goodwin Wants to Tentuple Production of Socialist Slave-Labor Governor’s Houses

I told you the Legislature’s Interim Workforce Housing Needs Committee would ignore the root cause of South Dakota’s lack of affordable housing (i.e., wages that make houses affordable). As a bonus, Representative Tim Goodwin (R-30/Rapid City) is also ignoring his own Republican values and advocating socialist interventions in the housing marketplace:

Speaking of housing, Lori Polak XO of SDHDA also came before our Work Force Housing Committee in Pierre a couple of weeks ago. When asked about how many Governor’s Houses can be built by the prison each year, she answered 150. Well, 150 is great, but we are conservatively short 6500 homes in the state and probably closer to a 10,000 home-shortage figure. I asked what it would take to produce 1500 homes. Well, it wasn’t received well. Heck, let’s let the main penitentiary in Sioux Falls start constructing Governor’s Homes. Also, why don’t we do it with prisoners who come to Rapid City on good behavior work-release status? For that matter, what about the 800 prisoners housed in Pennington County Jail? All good questions [Rep. Tim Goodwin, “Home Dedication in Hot Springs, sD,” blog, 2021.06.30].

The Governor’s House Project is South Dakota’s 25-year-old program that now conscripts over 140 inmates at the Springfield prison to build houses. The state contracts with 30-some lucky vendors for materials and sells the prisoner-built two-bedroom 1,008-square-foot houses for $57,700 and the three-bedroom 1,200-square-foot units for $68,900. We keep those prices low by not fairly compensating the men who do the actual building… so, wait—I guess the Governor’s Houses really do epitomize Republican values.


  1. mike from iowa 2021-07-06 09:42

    Speaking of housing shortage, there are between 900 and 1000 homeless people in Northern Mississippi.

  2. mike from iowa 2021-07-06 09:48

    Speaking of housing shortage, there are between 900 and 1000 homeless people in Northern Mississippi.

    Northern mississippi shows up around the 2:27 mark. 995 homeless. From 6/21/21

  3. LCJ 2021-07-06 09:56

    The inmates are not forced to build these homes. It does however, give valuable skills to people who may need experience in the outside world. I would say build as many as you can as fast as you can.

  4. leslie 2021-07-06 12:01

    “The inmates are not forced to build these homes”? LCJ- lt commander joe?

  5. LCJ 2021-07-06 12:30

    Les, I am sorry you believe C….A…..H………. lie about it being slave labor, but I see you believe a lot of liberal lies.

  6. Dicta 2021-07-06 12:44

    It can be both, LCJ. Some people may benefit from the learned skills. That doesn’t mean the critique of forced labor at a pittance of salary is wrong. Nuance is hard, I know.

  7. John Dale 2021-07-06 13:33

    We have tech to live on the moon .. we should be able to carve-up our national parks and forrests and create livable space there for people who want to farm.

    Bring back the American family farm!

  8. leslie 2021-07-06 13:38

    Liberal lies. Name one.

  9. El Rayo X 2021-07-06 13:48

    The Governors House program is not a solution to the housing shortage. Its goals are something different all together. The Governors Houses fill a niche pure and simple. Small, affordable, no frills housing for people on modest incomes. There isn’t building contractor in South Dakota who will pick up a hammer for less that a $250,000 home, building lot not included.
    Every convicted felon released on parole is required to find a job. The ones getting out with some skills have a better chance in the world, if their goal is to become a productive member of society. The room, board, medical, vision and dental benefits they receive should be pay enough. Maybe any hourly wages should first go to court ordered restitution, victim and court costs. A drama queen would say slave or conscripted labor. In truth, paying a debt to society is a better way to look at it. The 140 inmates probably consider themselves lucky.

  10. Mark Anderson 2021-07-06 13:55

    Yeah, carve up those Black Hills into family farms John Dale, now thats a plan. Let’s see if we can attract more of those amazing Norwegians to South Dakota.

  11. Mark Anderson 2021-07-06 13:57

    Didn’t Janklow start all that rendering of housebuilders?

  12. Mark Anderson 2021-07-06 14:11

    You know El Rayo X, unintended consequences always step in. If it becomes a way of society then it’s a fixture, you need cheap houses built by convicts then its like slavery. Thats why the Civil War was fought, the cheap labor that slaves provided was built into the system so the South couldn’t function without them. The Slaveholders would point out that the slaves way of life was so much better than in Africa. Quite wrong of course. That didn’t extend to any schooling, just a waste. Its always easy to justify any action but the results are always different. Maybe convicts could do your job, but so much cheaper, it might bring down the cost of whatever you do. This type of house building might work fine, like you say, but somebody needs to make sure it doesn’t go far beyond the training part of it. It can never become a cheap part of society or the prison population will never go down.

  13. bearcreekbat 2021-07-06 14:43

    Although the wisdom of requiring inmates to work at slave labor wages is certainly debatable, as is whether they really have any meaningful choice whether to do so, it is inconsistent with the history of this Country (see “Caste” by Elizabeth Wilkerson) and the Constitution itself to assert it is a “liberal . . . lie” that inmates can be forced to engage in “slave labor.”

    Section 1 of the 13th Amendment reads:

    Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    There can be little debate that the wages paid to inmates often are not in compliance with the minimum wage laws of the nation or state, and that, as such, inmate compensation is quite similar to whatever compensation (including food and shelter) that the most fortunate slaves earned on America’s southern planations (most got no wages at all). Likewise, the “choice” whether to work seems analogous to the “choice” whether to become a handmaid given to fertile women also convicted of a crime by Gilead in the “Handmaid’s Tale.”

  14. mike from iowa 2021-07-06 14:57

    Janklow said prison built homes would be bought by elderly people, thus freeing up larger houses for young, first time buyer parents so they would stay in the area and work and live. Someone evidently forgot to calculate in wages and job availability.

  15. leslie 2021-07-06 15:12

    Here’s one: antifa masqueraded as Trumpists, ransacked the capitol and killed police.

    “An Oath Keeper Admitted His Group Stashed Guns Outside DC For Jan. 6”
    (Mark Grods testified before the grand jury as part of his plea deal.)

    Zoe Tillman
    BuzzFeed News Reporter

    I know. She’s a liberal reporter. There is a liberal prosecutor. A liberal grand jury. A liberal federal court. All liberal lies, eh LCJ?

  16. leslie 2021-07-06 15:50

    Another: A poll that says Fox News viewers are ‘much less likely than others to say they are worried about the coronavirus.’ Why is that the case, and is it a problem?

    HANNITY: I’ve got the evidence that I’ve taken it seriously, and I have posted it online, and there’s more to come. Maybe my viewers are less scared because I tell them what the president is doing every day, and I have doctors on who express hope for a treatment. Knowledge emboldens people. At CNN and MSNBC, they don’t want you to even hear from the president because they hate him so much.

    Newsweek, 4.2.20 (john dale “spelling”)

    Liberal lies? “Belief” really isn’t part of anything. But if you “believe” Hanity and guests Newt Gingrich and Stephen Miller, etc. you are going to hide behind statements about “liberal lies”.

    “Tonight, the endless hate, rage, hysteria, misinformation from Joe Biden, the media mob, Democrats, big tech, the woke corporate cowards, it’s now hitting, if you can believe it new levels of derangement and psychosis because the outright lies that are being spewed about Georgia’s new voting law!” Hanity 4.5.21

  17. Dicta 2021-07-06 16:00

    John has a very weird definition of what is true and what isn’t. Remember when people were declaring Trump would be reinstated in March because of some crackpot sovereign citizen theory? When that didn’t turn out to be true, there was zero self reflection. None. They just blamed it on liberals. Now, Trump and his ilk believe Arizona will cause a domino effect and Trump will be reinstated in August. When that doesn’t happen, and it won’t, they won’t ask why people are lying to them. They will just blame it on liberals again. Truth doesn’t matter. What matters is how John and people like him feel. And to them, if they feel like something is true, then it must be true. Ironic, considering their gripes on gender issues.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-07-06 16:06

    Well, LCJ, let’s step on the gas. Don’t bother paying the inmates; just offer them a day off their sentence for every day they work on a house. They still wouldn’t be receiving full pay for the value they are creating, but they’d be released back into the paying workforce sooner. Oh, and strike those felony sentences from their records so they have an easier time getting paying jobs back in the world.

    But accelerate the program: Build more Governor’s Houses and give them away until all South Dakotans have nice affordable roofs over their heads. Why not invest more in socialized housing?

  19. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-06 16:25

    Well..XRayo X is correct in my opinion that the “free market system” is not going to build affordable housing in South Dakota. Young working people have to buy “entry level homes” which are decades old (1920’s bungalows) and over time fix them up and increase not only their equity but the structures market value. Problem is, or one of the problems, is that modern housing contains many more amenities than older homes and people have come to expect them. But the amenities increase the cost of the housing considerably. Things like central air, elaborate kitchens, recreation rooms, walk in closets (for most of the 20th century only the very wealthy had walk in closets-working class people didn’t have enough clothes for a walk in closet). Cory’s idea of incentiviseing prisoners is a good one, if it is not already happening. Housing is a critical issue wherever there exists a robust job market.

  20. James Sanden 2021-07-06 16:50

    25th Grunt
    Abeit Macht frei

  21. LCJ 2021-07-06 19:59

    I did not have sexual relations with Monica Lewiinski
    If you like your Dr you can keep your DR
    All white kids are privileged
    BLM inc is a good club
    Antifa is not real
    Knows more about raising your kids than you do
    CRT is not brain washing
    FDR (D) didn’t inter 1000’s of Japanese American citizens during WW 2
    Les-Lie give me an inch and I will give you a mile and change
    Joe is in charge
    The VP is qualified to be president when Joe is lawyered out office
    You guys should pay me consultant fees

  22. mike from iowa 2021-07-06 20:06

    You should pay Leslie insultant fees.

  23. Porter Lansing 2021-07-06 20:17

    LCJ aka Old Sarge got a new internet address and got through Cory’s screening.

    Welcome back, Kevin.

  24. grudznick 2021-07-06 20:24

    No striking of felony records, Mr. H. The laws don’t allow that, plus that’s the point of slapping a felony record on these miscreants. So they have a “record.”

  25. LCJ 2021-07-06 20:51

    Porter,as usual are wrong
    I would hope by now you would have changed your rasicist name

  26. LCJ 2021-07-06 20:55

    No money
    No leadership
    No agenda
    No morals
    No candidates
    No chance

  27. Mark Anderson 2021-07-06 21:03

    LCJ, any speech by trump has more lies by far than your list over years. You should have heard him in Sarasota boy. By the way your list was fun, but you need to get out more.

  28. FeelingBlueInARedState 2021-07-07 08:56

    A little behind the scene info on prison labor from someone who was has contracted with the DOC:
    1. Inmates are generally paid $0.25 per hour with a max earning of $1.50 per day. Often times inmates will work beyond the 6 hours simply to be out of their housing.
    2. Working, completing programs, etc does cut time off the total sentencing (earned discharged credits).
    3. While no one is physically forced to work, inmates can receive a write-up for refusing to work. This can result in loss of privileges, institutional freedoms, etc.
    4. DOC building programs – while on the surface is a good training opportunity, do not endow the inmate with a particular certification or license (for the most part – I think they might have one or two programs that do).
    5. Generally speaking, inmates working in housing, carpentry shop, upholstery, bookbinding, braille, printing, etc., say they like working – of course, the alternative to not working is being in a cell or barracks.

  29. Wayne 2021-07-07 09:34


    At the risk of sounding like I’m proposing a debtor’s prison, why should an inmate be compensated for their labor at a fair market value if they are not simultaneously required to compensate the state for housing them during their incarceration? We, the taxpayers, are covering the costs of their prison time – should we be if there’s a mechanism whereby a prisoner can pay that debt to society AND earn some money for when they’re released with marketable skills into a field that needs them?

    At the end of the day, increasing the Governor’s Home program tenfold won’t make enough of a dent in the housing shortage we face, but much like fighting climate change, can be a one of many solutions that get us to the end goal. Increasing wages will help, but those at the bottom will always be struggling to find adequate housing in their price range. We need many tactics to help people get into housing they can afford. One of those tactics isn’t to open up our national parks for habitation.

  30. leslie 2021-07-07 14:03

    Wayne, your ideas are very poor. Criminalization and indebtedness are tools of power. A trap that righteous politicos drum up.

    Kristi Noem’s far-right thought process.

    “…[while] exiles from far-right pro-Trump movements flock to alternative social platforms like Parler and Telegram, anti-extremism researchers are concerned about cross-pollination, particularly the Proud Boys’ attempts to recruit other disillusioned Trump acolytes with a range of far-right ideological leanings.” Rolling Stone

  31. LCJ 2021-07-08 07:00

    You can’t spell Leslie, without lie. Rolling Stone is hardly a reliable news source.

  32. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-07-08 07:15

    (LCJ, Rolling Stone is more reliable than you. Get serious: provide actual information to support your points, not the casual dismissal of sources that say things you don’t like. Alas, Leslie’s quote is off-topic here, though he was dragged there by your complete off-topic-ness, so you guys should take your fight to a different thread where it might be relevant.)

  33. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-07-08 07:44

    Wayne, we have a trio issues at play here. First, I point out that Republicans are relying on non-market forces, government intervention, to provide a basic good (housing) that South Dakota’s economy apparently fails to provide. The question there is, can true conservatives justify state interference in the economy with cheap labor?

    Second, we have the question of whether conscripting inmates to work for the state is just. As BCB points out, our Constitution explicitly permits the use of inmates as slaves, so we don’t have a legal case against it. Our corrections system doesn’t have to give inmates a choice; the guards could march the whole cell block out to the work site and say, start hammering. Universal conscription into the Governor’s House Program might not be wise: some of those inmates may not do quality work, and we’re trying to sell good houses.

    As FeelingBlue notes, many inmates view working as a positive alternative to sitting in their cells. Building houses may be more of a rehabilitative benefit than a punishment. I’d be willing to entertain the notion that this job training, the skills inmates gain from building houses, is itself sufficient compensation for their labor. We don’t pay the inmates of our schools for doing their homework; why pay the inmates of our prisons for completing their training/rehab?

    But I wonder: suppose one of the convicts is already an experienced carpenter. Putting that convicted carpenter to work on Governor’s Houses doesn’t really train him new skills, so he’s not really getting that compensation. Could we argue that unskilled inmates can settle for the experience, while skilled inmates deserve monetary compensation?

    Ah, but that gets me to the third issue raised by Wayne’s question, the contention that inmates should perhaps pay their debt to society by paying the literal debt we incur by housing them during their punishment. I’m inclined to say that, no, prisoners don’t have to pay room and board, because we are already applying the far more acute punishment of depriving them of precious liberty. We choose as a society to pursue justice through that deprivation; we need to pay for that deprivation as a community. Otherwise, well, we end up with an unequal application of sentences: a rich felon sentenced to a year in prison would write a check for his room and board upon his release and walk back into society completely free, while the poor man sentenced to the same year for the same crime would walk out still chained to the bill for his incarceration.

  34. bearcreekbat 2021-07-08 08:28

    (Cory appears to be justified in his assessment that Rolling Stone is a more credible source than LCJ. Media Bias/Fact Check reports that while Rolling Stone’s opinion pieces lean heavily left, the magazine’s “Factual Reporting is HIGH” and it has a “MBFC Credibility Rating: HIGH CREDIBILITY.”

    Meanwhile, many of LCJ’s factual assertions in comments seem to be neither sourced nor verifiable by actual objective credible sources.)

  35. Wayne 2021-07-08 09:17

    Cory, I think the political herring about reliance on non-market forces is a distraction. We have them everywhere and they’re created by both Republicans and Democrats. Case in point, we had the city council of Vermillion who were largely Democrats, create all sorts of regulations that increased the cost of housing, including limiting the number of non-related individuals staying in a housing unit to four, requiring separate metering for individual units, and a small host of other regulations that drove costs up for renters. We also live in a Republican-controlled state that requires three permits to sell eggs. When it comes to housing, providing houses to low income earners at sub-market rates is no different than policies for rent controlled housing.

    I don’t think there’s a strong conclusion from your second noodling. I’m led to believe the governors house program is voluntary. I certainly don’t see the harm in encouraging inmates to do something productive for society and self while they spend their time in incarceration. Life without purpose is a listless endeavor.

    To the third issue… well we already have an unjust system where the wealthy can afford legal counsel who can bring enough proverbial guns to ensure their clients have the best chance of navigating our criminal justice system unscathed. However, I take your point about the acuteness of the penalty from lack of liberty and will concede the point that we should not charge inmates for their stay behind bars.

    To me, this flows nicely into the argument that an inmate shouldn’t receive additional compensation for their labor if their good, productive labor is being used to reduce the length of their sentence (a net positive for society and the incarcerated alike).

    I think you’re stumbling into some ground not well thought through when you bring up the carpenter, and in turn are working through why we shouldn’t look at the skill building aspect as a reason to deny compensation (and instead should focus solely on the justness of sentence reduction). The state should not be in the business of providing fair compensation for inmate work, elsewise we’ll find ourselves asking why the CFO who was incarcerated for embezzlement shouldn’t be making $200k while providing services behind bars.

    It boils down to if we as a society have communally agreed to foot the bill to deprive someone of their liberty for their crimes against society, why is it just for us to also pay them for their labor?

  36. LCJ 2021-07-08 10:04

    Nick Sandman loves the Rolling Stone almost as much as he loves CNN,ABC,CBS, NY Times and all the other liberal rags he is suing. Yup, that sure is a good source of news. If that is the kind of people you trust it is no wonder this has become such a B & Moan site.

  37. Dicta 2021-07-08 10:50

    All news that I don’t like is fake news. Only I decide what is real. I am the arbiter of truth.

    This sort of narcissism is kinda fun. Thanks, LCJ.

  38. LCJ 2021-07-08 11:49

    The news outlets I gave are just some that are being sued by young Mr. Sandman.
    CNN has already settled. Just because he wore a MAGA hat.
    Rolling Stone was great when Hunter S Thompson was around.

  39. leslie 2021-07-08 11:53

    Wayne, this idea may have merit: “labor…being used to reduce the length of their sentence”. Your conclusion does not. Thank you for willingness to reconsider.

    You can’t expect to utter “liberal lies” or “both sides do it” without backing it up. That’s all yah got. Personal attacks are besides the point.

    A college small house town council will certainly have rent rules as a focus.

    30-40 page article seems fairly newsworthy:

  40. leslie 2021-07-08 13:30

    So yeah here’s a “liberal rag” that is not newsworthy on yer list:

    “Day of Rage: An In-Depth Look at How a Mob Stormed the Capitol – The New York Times. This is a breathtaking work of journalism. Every American who cares for the future of the country should watch it.”

    But I watched it live 1.06 all afternoon from my greasy jail cell. It wasn’t Fox news. Nothin’ else to do! ;)

  41. M 2021-07-08 17:39

    I think the governor ought to lasso up all the 18-40 year old unemployed men in our county and put them to work building governor houses. We have a high rate of unemployment with healthy young men who don’t want to do anything but hang around the park.

    They should also start building more elder care facilities and tiny homes.

  42. Porter Lansing 2021-07-08 20:20

    One solution is to eliminate, single family zoning. Big cities have nearly done away with it. Allow people to build “mother in law”, small homes in their backyard and become landlords. It stimulates banks, lumber yards, and small construction crews and adds residences without new developments.

    Another benefit is increased density. Apartment buildings and condo complexes quickly add affordable housing.

  43. leslie 2021-07-09 00:46

    Thx mfi, no idea who this kid was, but his atty lin wood, says it all. AND it seems likely the commenter has a red neck. Another paid troll like grdz’n dale?

    Listening to Dershowitz, Guliani, the 2nd impeachment snooze-lawyer (Epstein’s gift-prosecutor to boot), and guys like Ted Cruz and the Missouri kid-Senator, despite resumes, makes a mockery of the justice system. And the Republican Trump/McConnell/Thune packed federal courts.

    Sounds like a case RAGA and member Ravnsborg would launder. Porter’s idea might run foul of “more regulation” fears of the right. Smaller government no matter to public injury.

    Finally tonight:

    SD is one of 4 “green” states, covid statistically (but not slave labor statistically). Is that a spelling?

    Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH
    And you can see it in the suffering of the people of the two states

    Deaths per capita from COVID in VT vs SD

    Nearly 6 times as many folks in SD died from COVID as VT

    40/100K in VT versus 230/100K in South Dakota

  44. mike from iowa 2021-07-23 15:37

    According to today’s NYP Bernie Madoff made 24 cents an hour in prison as an orderly.before his death.

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