Tomblin proposes plan for female correctional facility

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is exploring options to acquire new property in Mason County to house an increasing number of female inmates. One of the possible locations is part of the Point Pleasant National Guard Armory.

“I feel they [Lakin Correctional Facility] could use the property and stay out of residential areas if they need more prison space in Mason County,” said local resident Jeff Sweeney.

The plan would reduce the amount of women held in regional jails in the state.

“The female inmate population is our fastest growing segment in West Virginia,” according to Tomblin’s website.

Currently, the Lakin Correctional Facility holds 524 female inmates and boasts a maximum capacity of 543 inmates.

The maximum-security prison located 6 miles north of Point Pleasant is the only female prison within the state.

Another potential location for additional female prisoner housing is the Sugar Grove Naval Base in Pendleton County. Renovations to the base in order to make the conversions would end up being more costly than the proposed site in Mason County.

“This plan provides the most cost-effective means of managing that growth,” Tomblin said, referring to the large number of female offenders.

Tomblin also thanked the federal government for offering to transfer the Sugar Grove facility to the state, but said the state will not take possession over it.

The proposed site in Sugar Grove would likely cost $19 million to set up with up to $16 million a year in operating costs. The armory site near Point Pleasant would cost about $8 million with a $3.9 million a year operating cost.

John Cole Glover can be contacted at [email protected]