CONCORD, N.H. — The New Hampshire Department of Corrections says ground will be broken for a new women’s prison on Aug. 18, two decades after the state was ordered to provide female inmates the same services as their male counterparts.
The new prison will be behind the state prison for men in Concord. It will have four buildings, including areas for health services, programming and education, visitation, industries and housing.
There will be two standalone general population housing units and one minimum custody housing unit. One of the general housing units will provide services for inmates with mental health and substance abuse needs.
The prison is estimated to cost $38 million.
“The campus concept of the new facility will allow for a continuum of programming and treatment services for our female offenders that will provide them with the tools and resources for a smooth transition into the community at the conclusion of their sentence,” Commissioner William Wrenn said.
SMRT of Portland, Maine, is the architectural and design company overseeing the project. Gilbane Construction Company of Bedford is overseeing the construction, which is expected to be finished in October 2016.
A number of previous attempts to secure funding to build a women’s prison failed, but Gov. Maggie Hassan and lawmakers included the funding in the 2013 capital budget, partly in response to a lawsuit.
Four female inmates sued the state in 2012 over conditions at the women’s prison in Goffstown, which opened in 1987 and was meant as a temporary site, following a federal court decision. The lawsuit said the women had unequal access to education, substance abuse treatment and other services compared to male inmates.
A study released in 2011 by the New Hampshire Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said the state may be violating the civil rights of its female prisoners by not giving them access to the same programs as male inmates.