Wildwood Correctional Complex officials anticipate opening two new buildings at the end of February. The buildings will house and support inmates who are on the verge of re-entering society.
The new bunkhouse will contain 32 beds, a bathroom facility and a small community space. The support building will hold a library, small kitchen, visitation rooms, inmate telephones, recreational space and additional offices.
The project's expenditures total $1.4 million, and the new facilities will create eight additional jobs.
"If everything goes as planned, we hope to be ready to go by about the third week of February," Wildwood Superintendent Robert Hibpshman said. "The biggest thing now is our fence. The weather is our biggest battle. Putting up a fence in the wintertime is hard work." Work on the project began in the summer of 2009.
A 12-foot, razor ribbon-lined fence will surround the facility. With the exception of solidifying each room's layout, the bunkhouse is completed. The support facility is still of in need of fine-tuning, such as putting glass windows in office doors.
Several prisoners have worked to transform the support building from an abandoned military recreation hall into a facility with a modern feel. As many as 14 inmates work together at one time, according to the superintendent.
"This is their project. Every day they get up and they go to work on it," Hibpshman said. "These guys are doing a good job."
By participating in the construction of the project, inmates perfect skills that should help them be valuable contributors to society upon their release, Hibpshman said. Some who have been working on it have already been released and moved on to halfway houses.
The facility itself is also meant to provide a space that will help ease inmates' move from prison life to life on the outside.
"It gets a lot of the lower key inmates out of the hard beds and gives them a much quieter, easier place to live and slowly transition back into society," Hibpshman said. "They are going home. This makes them more successful out in the street and prevents them from being re-entries."
Andrew Waite can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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