Convert old Navy base to a state prison

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register 

WHEELING, W.Va. — Bargains such as West Virginia may benefit from soon do not come along frequently. State officials should snap this one up.

A major Navy base located, strangely enough, near Sugar Grove, in Pendleton County, has been closed. State officials hope the General Services Administration will give it to West Virginia, for use as a prison.

Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein estimates the base could be converted for use as a prison – housing as many as 620 female inmates – for about $19 million.

That would help solve a longstanding problem in our state – too little prison space for too many convicts.

It would cost as much as $200 million to build a new prison, Rubenstein has said. That makes the Sugar Grove plan very appealing.

Rubenstein hopes to find the $19 million in the existing state budget. Legislators should be ready to supplement that effort, to at least some extent.

Meanwhile, West Virginia’s congressional delegation should lobby the GSA to allow use of the base as a state prison.

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