- The Washington Times - Monday, March 31, 2008

RICHMOND (AP) Wyoming inmates are due to be transferred within weeks to two Virginia prisons in the southwest corner of the state.

The transfer, part of a contract that could pay Virginia $18.5 million, could bring up to 300 Wyoming prisoners to the state over the next two years.

The Wyoming inmates will be held at the high-security Wallens Ridge State Prison in Wise County and the state’s new medium-security Pocahontas State Correctional Center in Tazewell County.

The contract runs to June 30, 2010, and is intended to ease chronic crowding at Wyoming’s state prisons, Melinda Brazil, spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Corrections, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The Wyoming system has 1,823 inmates. About 350 are being housed in Oklahoma.

Virginia, too, has felt the strain of a crowded corrections system.

Last year, officials warned that the number of state prisoners projected to be added to the 33,300-inmate system would require the construction of one new 1,000-bed prison a year for the next six years.

Larry Traylor, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC), said that forecast has not changed and “bed space is at a premium.”

“However, this is hopefully a short-term solution to meet current needs of the DOC and the state,” he said.

The alternative to contracting for out-of-state prisoners could be closing prisons and laying off employees, he said.

Inmates sent to Virginia could include those classified as high-security. Virginia has the final say on whom it accepts, Miss Brazil said.

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