Montana State Prison is situated in Powell County, Mt, close to Deer Lodge. The original facility was built in 1871 in downtown Deer Lodge, but the current building was constructed in the late 1970s as a response to the prison’s increasing population.
Montana State Prison has constantly suffered from the problems of overcrowding, while lacking funds and containing old facilities. In the late 1860s, the US Congress provided the newly created State of Montana a budget of $40 thousand to create a territorial prison, whose construction started three years later in Deer Lodge. Just a month after its opening in 1871, Montana State Prison was overcrowded and more cells had to be added. These poor conditions are also likely to be the source of several riots that occurred in the 1950s.
Inmates at Montana State Prison were managed according to the Auburn system which consisted of having the prisoners working in groups during the day but isolating them during the night while adhering to a strict code of silence at all times. Inmates were mostly assigned to manual labor rather than to vocational tasks or educational affairs.