Salem Correctional Center Officially Open with 300 Inmates - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Salem Correctional Center Officially Open with 300 Inmates

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SALEM -

It was just about a year ago when the fate of the Salem Industrial Home for Youth was unknown.

It was then decided that the home would be turned into a correctional center.

The transformation began in July, but it wasn't until Wednesday that the Salem Correctional Center officially opened.

Special guests included Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, Speaker of the House Tim Miley, and many others.

Tomblin said this was a project he worked very hard on.

"This past year we spent a great deal of our time and resources on transitioning this facility from a juvenile facility, finding homes for the juveniles who were housed here, and basically saving this facility and keeping this facility open using a lot of the same employees who were here before," Tomblin explained.

More than 300 inmates are now in the Salem Correctional Center, but it can accommodate even more.

Division of Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein said that having this facility helps with prison overcrowding in the rest of the state.

"Having 388 beds allows us to take 388 inmates out of the regional jail. We're seeing much quicker than anticipated the decline in the prison population," said Rubenstein.

Back in March a town hall meeting was held in Salem where residents voiced their concerns about the facility housing adults, and the dangers that might cause.

Rubenstein said the Division of Corrections takes all steps needed to ensure the safety of residents.

"The makeup of this faculty is minimum to low medium security inmates. They're inmates who are close to seeing the parole board discharging their sentences. They have a lot to gain and a lot to lose by messing up. We don't rely on the fence, security hardware, those kinds of things; we rely on daily constant interaction with the inmates," said Rubenstein.

More inmates will be brought in to fill the facility to capacity.