Montana Officials Discuss New Prison

HELENA, Mont. — Montana state officials have recently unraveled a prison construction plan that will bring another correctional facility to Lewis and Clark County.

The main force surrounding the developing plan for a new prison facility in the county is due to the recent overcrowding of prisoners in their current facility located in Helena. Lead architect on the job Scott Cromwell of Slate Architecture, has been consistently editing the project proposal in order to compensate for the rapidly growing numbers in the county’s current facility.

The current facility is able to house about 70 inmates, and while that number may be substantial, it does not cater to the growing number of convictions in Lewis and Clark County. As a result, the county has had to house the extra prisoners in neighboring counties for a sum of $65 per day.

In total, the new prison will be able to house 252 prisoners, with the possibility of adding additional housing units resulting in a potential 344 beds. The new facility will also be able to house facilities and departments other than the actual correctional facility itself. In particular, this new facility will hold the sheriff’s office, as well as other offices regarding county administration.

State officials and the architects of the prison hope to eventually be able to house about 400 inmates in total by the end of construction. But, this overall proposal does not include extra services provided by the correctional facility, including the mental health services program, as well as an extensive pretrial services program that could take away from the overall headcount within the new facility. Criminal justice officials believe that the addition of the pretrial and mental health service programs will be approved by the voters, and that the prison will not undergo construction without them. The overall cost of this facility that both Slate Architecture and state officials are projecting is around $40 million dollars, with an additional $2 million to add onto the existing prison called Lewis and Clark County Jail located in Helena.

The new detention center will consist of about 108,100 square feet, according to lead architect Scott Cromwell. The expected workforce involved with this new facility, including correctional officers, doctors, and other staff members will double the current county jails numbers, thus providing several more job opportunities for the surrounding community of Lewis and Clark County. As most prison systems and the number of prisoners keeps growing at such an astounding rate, the state of Montana will need to keep up with its neighbors and send the go-ahead to the actual construction of this huge facility.