BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) – State Rep. David Steffen is calling for a study of the aging Green Bay Correctional Institution.
The Howard Republican sent a letter to Gov. Scott Walker and Department of Corrections Secretary Jon Litscher requesting a study comparing costs to maintain the current facility to building a new prison.
Steffen says the study would focus on the benefits of building a new facility elsewhere in Brown County, “allowing the valuable real estate upon which GBCI is currently located to be re-purposed.”
All of Wisconsin’s maximum-security prisons are at full capacity, and a new facility could alleviate some of that.
“Over the past several months I have met and spoken with a number of community leaders, GBCI staff and officers, and the Department of Corrections,” Steffen says. “These discussions have brought to light a number of issues currently impacting GBCI.”
Steffen says the current prison does not meet capacity needs, which creates security concerns.
“The current structure that exists within that facility does not allow the current warden or the previous 4 wardens I’ve spoken with the opportunity to implement some of the more cutting edge opportunities when it comes to rehabilitation and vocational training that exists within the national prison system,” said Steffen.
During a press conference on Thursday, President of Allouez Jim Rafter said, “I could see a facility or development that incorporated the great history of some of the buildings and then to also bring in the future.”
There have been a number of high-profile attacks on correctional officers at the prison. In one attack, an inmate threw boiling water on an officer. The officer suffered severe burns.
Wisconsin Department of Corrections spokesperson Tristan Cook released this statement to Action 2 News:
The Department of Corrections is committed to the safety and security of staff and inmates in DOC custody. Secretary Litscher has visited GBCI several times to hear from front-line staff and leadership regarding GBCI and will continue to visit on a regular basis.
DOC has submitted its biennial budget and capital budget requests to DOA for consideration, which include the department’s priorities for the coming biennium.
Among the proposals in the Capital Budget request related to GBCI are renovations to the North and South Cell Halls and the construction of a new Health Services Unit and Psychological Services Unit,
both of which will increase safety for staff and inmates.
Secretary Litscher looks forward to working with front-line staff and leadership at GBCI to continue identifying and implementing safety and security enhancements in the coming biennium.”
Wisconsin Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) has called for an independent review of the prison. He said safety, for both facility employees and inmates, is his biggest concern.
“A lot of people have already been seriously injured and ultimately somebody may not come out of there alive,” said Hansen.
In addition to safety, Steffen says redeveloping the land on which GBCI is currently located could result in $1.67 million in tax revenue.
Aisha Morales will have more on the assemblyman’s proposal tonight on Action 2 News.