Concord, N.H. — The New Hampshire Department of Corrections conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 26 to mark the opening of the new $50 million New Hampshire Correctional Facility for Women (NHCFW).
The new full-service facility boasts 101,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 245 inmates who will gradually move into their new digs over the next few months, with a July 1 deadline slated for completion. The facility will provide a variety of programs and treatment options in an effort to aid inmates’ abilities to transition back into the community. Among them are culinary arts training, a physical fitness program, gardening opportunities, hobby and craft work. There will also be vocational training including Braille classes, graphic design training and screen-printing courses. A high school diploma completion program will be provided as well.
Notably, the new facility has an on-site health service unit marking the first time the female inmates will have access to 24/7 healthcare services. Prior to the opening of NHCFW, inmates of the old Goffstown women’s prison, which lacked an infirmary, received care from the nearby Concord men’s prison.
In New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s 2017 budget address, he stated that the NHCFW was “a desperately needed asset and we’re going to get it open. We are going to be aggressive and fully fund our corrections system to end the pattern of forced overtime and personnel shortfalls.”
There will also be a large educational area and a nondenominational chapel for worship. Likewise, the facility will have an expanded correctional industries area and what it’s dubbed a Family Connections Center. Cutting-edge security technology has been deployed throughout the facility, including 271 surveillance cameras.
According to a report in the Concord Monitor, the New Hampshire Correctional Facility for Women hails from an initiative first broached nearly 30 years ago when a group of female inmates sued the state to address the inadequacy of the out-of-state prisons where their care had been outsourced. The action resulted in a federal court order that mandated that New Hampshire open the Goffstown prison, which brought the inmates back into the state. However, a subsequent class-action lawsuit was filed six years, which alleged New Hampshire failed to provide female inmates with the services and housing that were available to the state’s male inmates. Within two years, legislators authorized construction of a new facility and the lawsuit was dropped.
Finding an equitable solution to its correctional facility woes was part of the platform of Sen. Maggie Hassan, who helped push the project through when she was governor of New Hampshire during which time she signed the state’s Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure that women earn equal pay for equal work and led a successful charge to restore funding to Planned Parenthood. Hassan toured the facility with other dignitaries following the ribbon cutting.
As Governor, I was proud to work with legislators to invest in the new women’s correctional facility, and today’s ribbon cutting marks the culmination of efforts that will help make our communities safer and ensure fairness in our criminal justice system. pic.twitter.com/RB463gFCBR
— Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) March 26, 2018