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Archive for Thursday, January 20, 2005

Prisons chief outlines Ellsworth expansion plan

January 20, 2005

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— The state would add new housing for 100 inmates to its prison in Ellsworth under a $3.2 million proposal advocated Wednesday by Corrections Secretary Roger Werholtz.

Werholtz gave the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee a list of options for expanding prison space, including $48 million proposals to build housing for 500 inmates in Stockton and Yates Center.

However, Werholtz said the Ellsworth proposal, which would be financed by bonds, is the most cost-effective way to provide new space and buy time for the department while a commission created last year reviews sentencing laws and programs for rehabilitating criminals.

"It allows us some time to see what develops," Werholtz said after the committee's meeting. As for a larger expansion, he said, "I think we can wait another year."

The state has prison space for 9,257 inmates. As of Friday, 8,940 criminals were in state custody, but the number spiked early last year at 9,251.

Committee Chairman Ward Loyd, R-Garden City, said while he has not had time to study the Ellsworth proposal, legislators would prefer to avoid an expensive expansion of the prison system.











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