POINT PLEASANT — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin talked about more than the completion of U.S. 35 on Wednesday, telling the Point Pleasant Register, the state’s proposal to possibly turn the National Guard Armory into a satellite campus of Lakin Correctional Center, was not going to happen.
The governor said the $8 million project to renovate the armory to house female inmates assigned to Lakin Correctional Center would not be moving forward.
“Obviously, I heard the community,” Tomblin said.
The governor went on to explain what was planned at the armory was a facility for those inmates who were being prepared to be released to receive job training through WorkForce West Virginia, any sort of substance abuse help they needed and other services designed to get them ready for parole and in the workforce.
“What we try to do is give them the skills they need to find a job, so we do not have a high recidivism rate so that’s what we were looking at,” Tomblin said, adding the facility was never meant to house “harden criminals.”
As for whether or not that type of facility would be built on the existing Lakin campus, Tomblin said “probably not,” saying things would stay “status quo” for now due to major budget cuts.
“As you know I’ve had to make $100 million in cuts so it’s really not a time to be expanding,” the governor said.
Tomblin’s office had said a renovated armory would’ve cost $3.9 million a year in operational costs and created 50 new jobs for Mason County.
Many residents who live near the armory came out against the proposal as did the Mason County Commission which sent a formal letter to the governor objecting to the plan. Many residents in the Meadowland Estates area were unsure of what type of inmates would be housed at the facility and others were concerned about property values in the area, with many homes only feet away from the armory.
The proposal came on the heels of residents fighting against a plan by the Division of Corrections to switch the female population at Lakin to male. This plan did not come to fruition but was put in place, according to the DOC, because of a growing female inmate population and need to get inmates moved from regional jails to state prisons.
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.