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Corrections chief wants East End jail open by 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Now that an $8.2 million construction contract has been awarded, West Virginia Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein hopes a new correctional center on Charleston's East End can open early in 2015.

"A lot of the work is inside work that, hopefully, won't be affected by winter weather, that shouldn't close down the construction site," Rubenstein said of the contract to convert a former office and warehouse at 1356 Hansford St. into the Charleston Correctional Center. The facility will house 128 inmates, many of them part of a work-release program.

State officials announced in September 2011 that they would buy the property.

The initial announcement of the correctional center project drew objections from some East End residents, but Rubenstein said Corrections officials have had regular meetings with community members to address issues and allay concerns.

He stressed that the inmates placed in the correctional center will be low-risk, nonviolent offenders who are close to completing their sentences.

BBL Carlton of Charleston was the lowest of three bidders for the construction project, at $8,196,800.

Corrections paid $1.075 million for the property in 2011, to replace leased space on Brooks Street, a few blocks away.

The current Charleston Work Release Center houses 66 male inmates, and lacks needed space for classrooms and multi-purpose rooms, Rubenstein said.

The new site will allow Corrections to house 30 additional work-release inmates, and to add a 32-bed residential substance-abuse treatment unit for female inmates.

Also, the state Parole Board will move into the center from cramped office space on Greenbrier Street.

"It will give them more office space, and provide conference space," Rubenstein said.

The additional space also will make it easier to keep families of crime victims and inmates' families separated during parole hearings, he said.

Under the contract, BBL Carlton has 360 days for substantial completion of the project, with the project to be entirely completed within 420 days.

"I'm hopeful it will move quickly," Rubenstein said.

The new 128-bed correctional facility is one of several measures intended to cut in half a backlog of 1,600 Corrections inmates that are housed in regional jails statewide.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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