Church Farm Prison Waiting to Reopen
The Church Farm Prison is closed, but in what's called a "mothball" status. The state wants to keep everything in working order, including the security system so the prison can one day reopen. Last spring about 1,000 inmates and 275 employees left Church Farm. If the prison is ever going to reopen, the antiquated security system needs repairs.
"We have to be in a position so that if the state does need it again that we are able to receive inmates," said John Fougere, Department of Corrections.
The state installed the current system in 1993. The system was to last about ten years. Now, a new system will bring a higher level of security.
"If somebody touches the fence it sends a signal back to our control room officers that indicates somebody is at the fence when they're not supposed to be. And then we can apprehend an individual within seconds if they're trying to escape," Fougere said.
The new system will cost from $135,000 to $185,000. That money will come from general revenue. It will run about a half mile around the prison fence.
"People don't have to worry about inmates getting out while the fence is down or being repaired in the event we have to move prisoners back," said Spence Jackson of the Governor's office.
Replacing the system will also save the state money later. An updated system will be in place and guards won't have to move inmates in and out of the facility for installation. Right now, about twenty maintenance and security staff work at Church Farm, keeping it ready to reopen. The state doesn't expect to spend much more maintaining the prison.