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(Washington, DC) – President Obama has signed into law a bill that contains funds for the opening of Berlin Prison, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced today. The 2012 Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill, which was passed by the House and Senate Thursday, includes $6.5 billion in funding for the Bureau of Prisons. It specifically prioritizes funding for the three prisons nationwide that have been completed but are awaiting funding to open—including Berlin Prison. 

“After a long and unnecessary wait, Berlin Prison will finally get the funds it needs to open,” Shaheen said. “This is excellent news for the North Country and for New Hampshire. The prison will provide a $40 million economic boost to a community that really needs it, and the Bureau of Prisons has said it will begin the hiring process within weeks. I am glad that Democrats and Republicans, the Congress and the White House, were all able to come together in a bipartisan way to pass this bill and get people back to work in New Hampshire.”

The opening of the Berlin Prison will provide a much-needed boost to one of the most economically distressed areas of New Hampshire, creating more than 300 jobs.

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.