ALLOUEZ, Wis. (WFRV) A Green Bay lawmaker says a recent state study shows the 123-year-old Green Bay Correctional Institution should be closed. But a project proposed for the new state budget, seems to indicate otherwise. Kris Schuller reports the proposal has one local state lawmaker upset.
Over two decades Rep. David Steffen (R-Green Bay) says the state has spent $850,000 studying what to do about the 123-year-old Green Bay Correctional Institution. The most recent report released this past December offered guidance.
“They told us that the facility is ready to be condemned, it has failed all of the major health and safety codes for prisons,” said Rep. David Steffen.
So, Steffen was angered to learn about a proposal for the governor’s next budget, to spend $13 million more on a new medical services unit at GBCI.
“This is like putting in brand new hardwood floors in your house about to be condemned. It’s infuriating that this is happening,” Steffen said.
A feeling shared by officials here at the Village of Allouez who’ve been lobbying the state for years to shut GBCI.
“That doesn’t tell me they are seriously considering what’s been asked of them,” said Allouez Village President Jim Rafter.
President Rafter says the evidence is overwhelming. The prison needs $250 million in repairs, repurposing it could create $1.4 million annually in property tax revenue and instead of building a new prison, the most recent study says inmates here could be relocated within the corrections system.,
“With all of this being said and the governor’s interest in criminal justice reform, I just don’t get it. I just don’t get it,” Rafter said.
“I’m going to ensure that this is taken out. There’s no way I’m going to be voting for a budget that includes this ridiculous type of spending. It is stupid spending,” Steffen said.
“Don’t spend more money on it, start figuring out how to get rid of it, how to deal with it,” Rafter said.
A message Rafter says he’ll share again with the governor, as he’s done previously over the years.
Rafter says new housing and business space constructed at the prison location could create some 1,400 jobs.