- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia officials say plans are moving forward to convert part of a soon-to-be closed Navy base in Pendleton County into a state prison.

Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein told legislators Thursday that the state has submitted a formal application to the federal General Services Division to use part of the 122-acre Sugar Grove military base.

The Charleston Gazette reports (https://bit.ly/1KdUhen) that the Navy announced plans in 2012 to close the Naval Information Operations Command base.

West Virginia officials say in addition to a 600-plus bed correctional facility, the joint application also calls for the state National Guard to develop a Wounded Warrior assisted-living center on the base, and for the state Department of Agriculture to use some of the acreage for farmland to be maintained by inmates.

Estimates are that it would cost about $18 million to make dormitory style housing on base suitable for use as a corrections facility, Rubenstein said.

“It’s certainly still a far cry from $200 million-plus to build a new facility,” he noted.

Rubenstein said the state is facing issues with aging prison facilities, including Pruntytown Correctional Center, which was built in the late 1800s as a juvenile detention facility, and Lakin Correctional Facility for Women, opened in the 1920s as a psychiatric hospital.

He also said prospects for the new facility, as well as a faster-than-expected decline in prison population, have made a proposal to house up to 400 inmates in a private prison located near Hazard, Kentucky, and operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, https://www.wvgazette.com

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