Minimum Security Prison in Bismarck Could Move - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Minimum Security Prison in Bismarck Could Move

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For years there's been talk amongst lawmakers to move the Missouri River Correctional Center closer to the prison.

However, corrections officials opposed the idea.

Now a new idea is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The proposal is to spend $200,000 to develop a plan to move the minimum security prison and to set aside $12 million for the move.

Donnell Preskey tells us where MRCC could end up.

Construction on the State Penitentiary is expected to be complete this summer.

Lawmakers in previous sessions approved $60 million to build and renovate the prison.

It was a pet project of Representative Alon Wieland.

Now he's shifting his focus on a minimum security facility in south Bismarck.

He wants to move the Missouri River Correctional Center across the river to the Youth Correctional Center's property.

"My reason for wanting to move it is in the interest of being more efficient in operation. I find it difficult to see us having two correctional facilities in the same community"," says Rep. Alon Wieland of West Fargo.

If MRCC would move, the proposal is to turn the 900 acres of river front property into a nature park.

"We simply don't want to see any kind of development but to increase public access to the river and to the natural areas down there," says Mylo Candee.

However the Department of Corrections Director does not support the idea, saying the state's money could be put to better use than moving the facility.

"It would cost way more than $12 million to replace MRCC, it would be better utilized to update some of our aging facilities," says Leann Bertsch of the North Dakota Department of Corrections.

She says the main building is fairly new, built in 1991.

She says she also questions how the move would impact the inmate workforce at MRCC.

Roughrider Industries gives inmates work experience to prepare them for release.

But her greatest concern is over safety issues in joining the two correctional facilities.

"You can not mix adult and juveniles. You have to have total sight, sound separation. So there will have to be significant changes to one or more campuses," says Bertsch.

Inmates at MRCC were evacuated during the 2009 and 2011 floods to YCC.

But Bertsch says she is not concerned about future flood issues.

A dike is planned to protect the area south of Bismarck.

"We would just like MRCC to stay where it is at," says Bertsch.

The Senate Appropriations Committee took no action on House Bill 1312 today.

 

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