Calhoun State Prison program frees up space - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Calhoun State Prison program frees up space

November 1, 2007

Calhoun County --  Georgia has the nation's fastest growing inmate population among states with large prison populations. 

Thursday, the Department of Corrections dedicated a new dormitory at Calhoun State Prison, and the new building, with 192 beds is already full.

It's freed up space for higher security inmates, but what the Department of Corrections Commissioner wants to see is more opportunity for inmates to learn work skills in an effort to keep them from coming back.

Last year, Georgia's prisons took in 21,000 inmates. They released just 18,000, growing the population by three thousand and showing the need for more beds. It's why the Fast Track Unit was added at Calhoun State Prison. 

"We're adding new beds and when this project is done in 2011, projects like this, will have added over 6,000 new beds to existing infrastructure," said Commissioner James E. Donald of the GA Department of Corrections. 

"It's open dormitories so it's fairly economical to construct because of that so, we make sure we have more settled inmates housed in this particular unit," said Calhoun State Prison Warden Dannie Thompson.

Some that stay out of trouble, don't need disciplinary reports, pretty much showing good consistent behavior. The new "L" building, already full, is helping with higher security inmates at Calhoun. "This is able to allow us to free up that space for those inmates. The building also has a classroom, in hopes of providing inmates with educational opportunities," Thompson said.

Those opportunities could turn into work details and eventually jobs. Commissioner Donald believes if you can give inmates meaningful work and a suitable place to stay, they might not return to prison. "What we're trying to do is instill in our inmate population a work ethic, so when they get out, and the community meets us half way in allowing us to work inmates, then they are prepared to work."

And will keep working, lowering the state's average of 67% of inmates who return to prison because they can't stay out of trouble. 

Two-hundred residential substance abuse beds were also recently added at the Bainbridge Probation Substance Abuse Treatment Center.

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