South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem seems to have found the perfect use of state prison labor: building a $9,000 black walnut wood desk—and then getting a discount.
That’s the claim at the center of a Dakota News Now investigation, one that finds Noem’s support of the South Dakota State Penitentiary at odds with the work asked of Pheasantland Industries, the prison’s workshop.
After an initial inquiry last year, Noem commissioned an 80-inch long, 3-foot wide Black Walnut desk in April from Pheasantland, which allows inmates to learn a trade for 50 cents an hour. The order, which came from the governor’s office, asked for basic desk cutouts.