Report: Wisconsin Needs $1.2 Billion Prison Expansion
(02/25/2010)

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin needs to spend $1.2 billion to update prison facilities and expand bed capacity during the next 10 years to tackle aging facilities and overcrowding systemwide, according to a recent study.

The Department of Corrections must add more than 8,900 beds to relieve overcrowding and replace almost 2,700 existing beds to modernize facilities for juvenile and adult offenders, according to a study conducted by planning, design, construction management and consulting services firm Mead & Hunt.

State prisons housed more than 22,600 inmates, which equates to more than 125 percent of design capacity, according to official figures published in January.

The deteriorating condition of several aging prisons, including Dodge, Kettle Moraine, Fox Lake and Oakhill, pose significant safety, security, operational and maintenance problems, according to the report. Emergency dormitory facilities constructed during in the mid-1990s have reached the end of their useful lives, the report states.

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The report also recommends ending the policy of double-bunking, implemented to relieve overcrowding at Waupun and Green Bay prisons, on the basis that it does not meet current standards.

The report will form the basis of the state’s planning and development strategy for the DOC, officials say.

The study confirms that demand for bed space and the cost of corrections will continue to grow during the next decade. However, given the current economic climate and projected budget deficits, the state does not have the financial capacity to implement all the recommendations in the report, officials say.

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