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A second chance at success deserved for corrections center

By Staff | Jul 2, 2009

In golf they call it a mulligan, a “do-over,” if you will, and in some ways that’s what the local corrections and drug treatment facility is getting.

Late last month the transfer of ownership between the Rugby Job Development Authority and USDA was finalized, closing the book on what was a disappointing two-plus years’ existence of the North Central Correctional and Rehabilitation Center that struggled to make financial ends meet.

The building and much of the staff remains, but under a new name, new advisory board and a new financial loan structure. And hopefully those changes will produce a different outcome.

The facility is important to this community and county, and the steps taken by local leaders to set a new course should be commended.

There is debate as to what went wrong. Some point the finger at consultants’ faulty projections of expected inmate counts to make the facility cash flow. Some argue the project kept growing in size, and it turned out to have too many beds which the facility couldn’t fill. Others believe the loan repayment was doomed from the beginning, as it was unrealistic to think the facility would have enough funds at the start to make a $40,000 a month loan payment. Another argument is that at the beginning there was no wing to house women offenders, which would have created more revenue. One was later added. And then there is the issue of why planners weren’t successful in getting more nearby counties to participate in the facility, thus increasing the local inmate count.

The facility also ran into a bit of tough luck. A $250,000 U.S. Marshals Service loan fell through. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s inmate population was low, so contracting inmates with regional jails was not needed for several months. And a contract with the Wyoming Department of Corrections to house 40 to 50 of their prisoners fell through. The contract was nixed because state law didn’t specifically state that regional jails could contract with other state corrections departments.

The good news is a second chance is being given.

In time, history may paint a different picture of the NCCRC -not one of failure, but of lessons learned.

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