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February 27th, 1893 – On This Day in Sioux Falls History, there had to be a vast repeal and overhaul of the State Penitentiary Parole Laws! There were just too many convicts being granted parole due to the technical writing of the law, not based on the merits of their rehabilitation!  Many of them being simply released to wander the streets of Sioux Falls!

When SD gained statehood in 1889, the new state legislator created a 5 man commission to oversee the State Penitentiary here in Sioux Falls, as well as other corrections facilities throughout the state.  In addition to creating this commission the legislature also passed two laws.  The first law allowed for the paroling of all convicts except for those being convicted of 1st or 2nd degree murder, and the second granted a loose outline of what some of the terms of parole should be. 

Based on this outline the parole laws that would go into effect in 1890 allowed for nearly 100 inmates to be paroled between 1890 and 1893!  It is even more significant when you learn the prison population in 1890 was only 97 men! 

Granted, it is not inherently bad that a lot of men were being given a second chance, but… the error in the letter of the law was allowing inmates to be paroled who had no intention of walking the straight and narrow, and moreover they were being released into the heart of SD’s most populated city… Sioux Falls!  Reform was swift… to say the least!