Montana State Prison


Acting Warden Jim Salmonsen

Montana State Prison (MSP) is the largest correctional facility in the state, housing nearly 1,600 male inmates in a 68-acre compound designed to handle all custody levels: maximum, close, medium and minimum. Located in the Deer Lodge valley approximately 3.5 miles west of the town of Deer Lodge, the prison is a familiar symbol of corrections in Montana and houses some of the most violent offenders in the state.

Montana State Prison and its staff of about 640 uniformed and non-uniformed employees serve the citizens of Montana by providing a secure correctional environment that supports public safety by encouraging positive offender change.

The prison is divided into three compounds: low side, high side and locked housing. Within those custody levels are different types of supervision. Inmates range from general and special management populations to those with serious mental illness and inmates housed for pre-hearing confinement, detention or those in locked housing due to ongoing or serious behavior management problems.

Montana State Prison uses a unit management structure that is ultimately managed by a warden, four associate wardens and three bureau chiefs. Outside the fenced perimeter is a 192-bed Work and Reentry Center, which houses minimum-custody inmates who work on the 35,000-acre ranch and dairy program operated by Montana Correctional Enterprises (MCE). Together, the prison and MCE provide work for about 70 percent of the inmate population, as well as education, treatment, programming, recreation, religious activities and clinical services to promote the development of self-esteem, an environment that fosters self-improvement and a work ethic that will serve inmates before and after their release.

Contracted Secure Facilities

Use of regional and private prisons represents a three-way public safety partnership among the State of Montana, three counties and private industry. This partnership gives the state greater flexibility in managing inmate population and placement.

The Department of Corrections has developed and implemented a comprehensive monitoring process to ensure that the obligations of the prison contracts are met. The goal of the monitoring process is more uniformity within the system. Stringent contract compliance improves public safety and assures cost control. Key to the success of the program is the monitor at each facility, who reports to the Contract Placement bureau chief.

Biennial audits of each facility are completed by the department’s Quality Assurance Office, security staff, and personnel from Montana State Prison and Montana Women’s Prison, and representatives of regional and private prisons. This team checks for compliance in food service, medical care, programming, security and administrative duties. Plans for improvement are then developed.