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Governor's Budget Allows for Private Prison Payments

RubensteinSession.JPG
Janet Kunicki

During the Division of Corrections budget hearing, Commissioner Jim Rubenstein said the governor’s proposed budget for the division includes additional funding for provisions of Senate Bill 371, the governor’s prison reform bill. It includes increases for the transition of the Salem Industrial Home for Youth to the Salem Correctional Center.

“The Salem Correctional Center houses 388 male inmates and the funding that we received during the transfer from juvenile services was not sufficient to operate a 388 bed facility,” he said, “so, the governor has proposed the additional funding for us to operate that facility properly.”
 
Over the past few months, Rubenstein, the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety and the governor's office have been in talks with private, out-of-state prisons to help ease the state's overcrowding issue.

Corrections Corporation of America, a Nashville based company, was the only organization to bid on housing the prisoners. Senator Bill Laird questioned if the Division's budget included the cost of sending inmates to the Kentucky facility.  

“There’s a line item that’s only payments to Regional Jails and that line item now lifted that restriction,” Rubenstein said. “It’s basically an operational funding line to not only make the payments to the Regional Jails, but to allow us in other operational type areas.”

Rubenstein said it’s that line item change that would allow the Division to pay an out-of-state facility to house inmates.

CCA said in a bid they would charge West Virginia $59.80 per inmate per day, a number slightly below Rubenstein’s initial estimate. He told the committee he thought the daily rate would be in the mid-60s.

“Through the secretary’s office that figure is in the governor’s office and we don’t have word back yet whether there’s a green light to proceed or what that outcome will be,” he said.

After reports of a lockdown at the Lee Adjustment Center, the facility CCA bid to place West Virginia inmates in, Rubenstein said in a statement:

I am aware that a portion of the Lee Adjustment Center is on lock down due to alleged fights or assaults among the Vermont inmate population which is currently housed at this facility. The W.Va. Division of Corrections is looking into the specifics of what has occurred, why a lock down was initiated, what type of problems are they experiencing and how they are handling the investigations. It is critical to the WVDOC to examine the particulars of this current situation involving the Vermont inmates housed at the Lee Adjustment Center. No decision has been reached on whether W.Va. will move forward on the voluntary out of state placement of inmates, but we want to be assured all aspects and operations of this facility are in order before any type of movement would occur.


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