November 01, 2011

(Washington, DC) – Berlin Prison is one step closer to getting the funding it needs to finally open, announced U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who hailed the passage today of the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill in a 69-30 vote in the Senate. The bill includes $6.6 billion in funding for the Bureau of Prisons, and specifically prioritizes funding for the three prisons nationwide that have been completed but are awaiting funding to open—including Berlin Prison. 

The completed prison has sat vacant since its completion last year because of budget cuts. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives. 

“I am pleased the Berlin Prison is one step closer to finally opening. It will provide good jobs for the economically distressed area of Berlin and ease prison overcrowding,” Shaheen said. “Keeping a completed prison empty at the cost of $4 million per year just doesn’t make sense. I urge the House to pass this bill quickly.” 

The opening of the Berlin Prison would provide a much-needed boost to one of the most economically distressed areas of New Hampshire. Opening the prison would give the community a $40 million economic boost and immediately create more than 300 jobs in a region that desperately needs them. 

The 1,280-bed, medium-security federal prison was completed during 2010, at a total cost of $276 million.  The federal prison system is 39 percent overcrowded and needs the new prison to address safety concerns associated with overcrowding.

Shaheen has fought for opening of the prison since its funding became at risk. She spoke on the Senate floor last month in support of the appropriations bill and the Berlin Prison. She has also appeared on NBC Nightly News and the Today Show to discuss the issue, and has repeatedly pressed Congress and the Obama Administration to prioritize funding for it.

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