In a November budget hearing in Concord, Commissioner of Corrections William Wrenn told lawmakers he feared the new $38 million prison they had funded – which is being built in Concord as I write this – would be too small.
The fact that the state’s prison population has been growing steadily is well known. What’s new is a striking increase in the number of female inmates in state prison over the last six months. It’s 13 percent higher compared to 2013. That’s roughly four times the rate of increase among male inmates.
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.