State lawmakers broke ground for a $38 million State Prison for Women on Monday, thrusting shovels into dirt behind the tall wire fences of the Concord State Prison for Men. The prison will replace a former county jail that was meant to be temporary, but has housed the state’s women inmates for more than 20 years.
The new prison will include a chapel, classrooms, space for prison industries, and a courtyard with a garden. It came about after female inmates sued the state for not providing the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
Governor Hassan, Corrections Commissioner Bill Wrenn and others celebrated the project. Democratic State Senator Sylvia Larsen also offered a warning, saying “it’s not enough to build this new facility. The legislature must fund the additional staff necessary to meet the security, programming, and treatment needs of these women.”
Over the last 10 years, the Department of Corrections has struggled to fund programming and adequately staff existing facilities. Lawmakers have yet to fund the operations of the larger women's prison.