Community Reacts To New Correctional Center

By: Todd Baucher, Shannon Houser
By: Todd Baucher, Shannon Houser

For someone in the corrections system, this is the one thing that will stand between them and freedom. It's also hoped that, by going through the new Parkersburg Correctional Center, they won't return to a prison system reported to be one of the fastest-growing in the nation.

"Those people who also have the privilege of participating in those programs know that they have a lot to lose if they reoffend," Jeff Kessler, West Virginia Senate President, told a dedication ceremony and open house Monday. "But they, and the state, will have an awful lot to gain if they are successful."

The prison's warden says the location of the existing, and structurally sound building was a plus. He says the system was also able to arrange for inmates to be taken to the jobs they will have, while taking that last step toward release.

"We have worked with the transit authority, so we will have transportation for the inmates to and from their jobs," Patrick Mirandy, Prison Warden, told us. "It's also a benefit, because we have local highway crews, and they can give back to the community by community service out on the highways."

130 people, all of them male, will be housed here. Many will come from the now-13 year old St. Marys Correctional Center, a medium-security prison.

"The faith we have in the folks who work here, and the leadership team, is great," said Blair Couch, President, Wood County Commission. "And I know they're up for the challenge."

The center, which also will house the Parkersburg Parole offices, will provide substance abuse treatment for some of its residents.

The new correction center in Parkersburg will house minimum- security inmates, and while there's mixed opinions from people here in the valley, most people say as long as security can be kept tight, it's a good idea.

Parkersburg resident Michelle says, "I'm not concerned at all. With it being up on the hill at the old Holiday Inn, I think they'll have it under control. "

Many agree that having something take the place of an old vacant building is better than just letting the building sit.

"The place is in need of something, so I would say that's alright, as long as they can keep control," says Janet.

"I think it would be good use for the building, rather than have it sit there and waste away," says Jim.

Inmates will be required to participate in community service work. Many people think putting them to work to help out our area is a great, too.

"I personally think it's a good thing. I think it kinda helps alleviate some other problems. I believe it will work," says Lester Newberry.

And some people are more hesitant to say the prison is a good idea, even though the inmates aren't high risk.

"From what I understand the ones that are going to be housed there are recovering addicts or something of that sort. I don't know if they're from around the area or anything but there could be a possibility something goes wrong when you're working with criminals," says resident Reginald Henry.

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