State reopens bidding for 1,000-bed penitentiary — South Central Arkansas was in contention during last round | Local News

The Arkansas Board of Corrections and the Arkansas Department of Corrections issued a public notice Friday soliciting submissions for communities to express interest in donating land for a new prison.

The prospective maximum-security facility would house approximately 1,000 inmates within the Division of Correction.

Columbia and Ouachita counties were in the running for the location of a new state prison until Gov. Asa Hutchinson ditched planning to build a major facility in 2015.

Proposals will be evaluated by the Department of Corrections and submitted to the Board of Corrections for selection.

A new facility would employ an estimated 370 individuals, with an annual payroll of approximately $21 million. The facility will have an estimated operational budget of approximately $2 million.

The desired property is a square and generally flat land consisting of approximately 400 acres that is bordered on at least one side by a paved public roadway in an area that is not prone to flooding nor at a significant risk for earthquakes.

In addition, the site should be in close proximity to major medical resources such as a hospital with an emergency department, adequate utilities for gas, electricity, water, and sewage, and located in a relatively populated area for staff recruitment considerations.

The selected location cannot be within sixty miles of an existing correctional facility operated by either the Division of Correction or the Division of Community Correction.

Magnolia was one of many communities that bid for a proposal, first issued in 2014, to construct a 1,000-bed prison that would have cost up to $100 million, and created 250 jobs. The Magnolia Economic Development Corporation, which no longer exists, worked with counterparts in Stephens and Camden, forwarded a pitch to the Arkansas Department of Correction that encouraged consideration of sites in the region.

The MEDC had spoken with owners of potential prison sites, paid for a soil test at one location, and maintained contact with regional and state officials about the plan.

CLICK HERE for specifications, instructions for submitting proposals and the site evaluation questionnaire.


Leave a Comment