Wyoming State Prison in dire shape

This was published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, July 16th 2015

Officials say repairs will be very expensive.

By Trevor Brown, WY.Trib Eagle

CHEYENNE – Wyoming could be looking at expensive repairs – perhaps costing tens of millions of dollars – to fix structural problems at the state prison in Rawlins.

Construction officials told the State Building Commission on Wednesday that problems at Wyoming’s only maximum security facility are more widespread and likely more expensive than they previously feared.

A cost estimate to correct the problems is expected in the next month or two.

State officials said they do not want to speculate on the potential cost. But they hinted it could be extreme enough that it might be cheaper to build a new prison instead of repairing the current one. A new facility cost more than $90 million when it was built in 2001.

“If the dollar amount is so huge (to make the repairs), we will have to say, ‘Is it is worth it?'” said Gov. Matt Mead, who chairs the commission.

Bob Kiser is a project manager with the state’s construction management division. He said the 14-year-old facility is only one-third through its estimated lifespan.

But he agreed a “cost evaluation comparison” would have to be made to see if it would be better to make the fixes or just build a new prison.

“That is on our minds at this time,” he said.

The State Penitentiary houses about 650 inmates and has a staff of 336, according to 2012 count by the Department of Corrections.

The state has been monitoring cracks and movement in the walls and floors at several locations in the prison since 2013. But new preliminary investigations have discovered more structural problems in other parts of the prison.

Read the rest here.