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Sunday, May 19, 2024
A bill to sell Green Bay Correctional prison and buy a new prison in another county was up for public debate Thursday.

A bill to sell Green Bay Correctional prison and buy a new prison in another county was up for public debate Thursday.

Green Bay Correctional facility to be sold, new jail slated to be built under legislation

Green Bay Correctional Institution would close its doors under a bill that calls for selling the prison to a private company, paving the way for a new jail in Brown County.

The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. David Steffen, R-Howard, and state Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, would require the Department of Administration to contract with a private company to sell Green Bay Correctional and lease a prison facility in Brown County or neighboring county that the state could potentially purchase.

Green Bay Correctional, the 100-year-old prison located in the village of Allouez, has experienced problems with maintenance of the facility itself and managing staff, according to lawmakers in favor of the bill.

The facility can hold 749 inmates, according to Steffen. Currently, there are 1,090 inmates at Green Bay Correctional.

“By creating a path to construct a modern correction center, we will more adequately meet the needs of our state’s correctional system, while operating in a more prudent and financially beneficial manner for the taxpayers of Wisconsin,” state Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, testified before a Senate committee last week.

“A new facility brings assurance that state of the art technology and design will ease some of the stress placed on our correctional officers currently operating [the jail],” he added.

The new prison would continue to be staffed and run by the Department of Corrections.

Proponents of the bill also say selling the facility would be more cost-effective than paying for repairs. As part of Gov. Scott Walker’s two-year budget, the prison received $22 million for renovations.

Others, however, question whether the money made from selling the facility can be better spent elsewhere than on another prison.

“The solution, as Rep. Steffen mentioned, could generation … $80 million in new development ” said Allouez village president Jim Rafter, who testified in favor of the bill but suggested using the revenue directly for his community.

The bill is expected to receive a hearing a public state Assembly committee hearing in May. 

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