SHAHEEN: BERLIN PRISON EXPECTED TO GET FUNDING THIS WEEK TO FINALLY OPEN

November 16, 2011

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced that this week Berlin Prison is finally expected to get the funds it needs to open. The Senate and House will likely pass the final version of the 2012 Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill this week and send it to the President to sign into law. The spending bill includes $6.5 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. 

“This is excellent news for the North Country and New Hampshire. Berlin Prison will provide a $40 million economic boost to a community that really needs it.  Assuming this bill passes, the Bureau of Prisons has said it will begin the hiring process within weeks,” Shaheen said.  “I am glad the Congress is coming together in a bipartisan way to pass this bill and get people back to work in New Hampshire.”

“I am very happy about the future of Berlin and there is definitely a positive feeling in our city now, and Senator Shaheen really helped create this headwind. We would not be here without her help on a number of Berlin and North Country projects—this being the biggest one of all,” said Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier.

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 in 2010, at a total cost of $276 million.  Federal medium-security prisons are 51 percent overcrowded and the Bureau of Prisons needs the new prison to address safety concerns associated with overcrowding.

The completed prison has sat vacant since its completion last year because of budget cuts.

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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