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Novstrup Useless—House Rejects State Funding for New Brown County Jail

Al Novstrup fails again.

Brown County spent $4.5 million last year to buy a building out in the industrial park that they hoped to turn into a regional jail (the perfect project, I suppose, to complement Al’s son David’s family fun center just down the street). Senator Al Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen) pushed the state to invest in more incarceration in Aberdeen, and he co-sponsored Senate Bill 155 to provide $50 million in state funding for jail construction and improvement around the state.

But for all of his vaunted relationships that he has supposedly forged after 21 years in the Legislature, Novstrup was unable to persuade the Legislature to approve this investment in Brown County. SB 155 made it through the Senate, but the House rejected the new jail building fund Wednesday on a 14–54 vote. The nays came from all sides—radical right-wingers, mainstream Republicans, and a few Democrats.

Brown County Commissioner Mike Wiese says his pal Al’s failure means Brown County may have to sell that building and come up with a new jail plan:

The Brown County Commission created a self-imposed deadline to raise at least 40% of the funds for the $30 million project by April 1st, otherwise they would sell the building.

…With the deadline approaching and state funds out of the picture, Brown County might have to consider selling the building.

“Selling it is a distinct possibility. The problem is it doesn’t make the problem go away. I believe we have a population that was 62 this morning, but our capacity is 48. So, it’s an ongoing, critical situation that needs to get addressed,” said Wiese [Sarah Parkin, “Brown County Regional Jail Project Loses Hope of State Funding,” KSFY, 2023.03.03].

Novstrup has tried and failed before to get the state to help Brown County build a new jail. Aberdeen had a chance to elect a new, young, energetic Senator last June who might have worked harder to address this ongoing, critical situation. Instead, voters chose to coast along with lazy old Al for another term and hope that Novstrup’s experience would magically translate into manna from Pierre. But I get the impression that since Al expends much of his meager energy fighting for favors to boost his profits, his colleagues start tuning him out and thus are not moved when he briefly turns his attention to the common good for his district and his northeastern South Dakota neighbors.

So Aberdeen and Brown County are stuck for another year with a Senator who can’t deliver. Maybe come 2024, District 3 voters will finally pay attention and elect a Senator who lives and works full-time in Aberdeen and for Aberdeen.


  1. John 2023-03-05 18:09

    “Critical situation” – ROTFLOL. What is critical is that the US (and South Dakota) lead the world in incarceration rates.
    What is “critical” are the 35-40 South Dakota counties that no longer can afford a county jail so those counties rely on regional jails. An excellent metric for the viability of the need for a county – if a county cannot afford a jail it cannot afford to be a county. Adopting that metric would reduce the horse and buggy era South Dakota counties from 66 to a manageable, sustainable 20 something.
    Perhaps we need another initiative to shrink government and increase government efficiency and effectiveness. Rick? Rick?

  2. Big D 2023-03-05 20:10

    Adding to the injury is that Rohl is all about Aberdeen and what benefits Brown County. So, Aberdeen actually get 2 Senators.

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