The U.S. Penitentiary has been in Leavenworth for more than 100 years. And U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran said the community's partnership with the Federal Bureau of Prisons will continue with the construction of new prison.
In June, Moran, R-Kansas, announced that full funding had been appropriated for a new federal prison in Leavenworth.
And Moran celebrated the project Thursday while visiting Leavenworth.
"The Leavenworth community seems so pleased for this opportunity," Moran said. "And the Bureau of Prisons seems pleased for this opportunity."
The new medium-security Federal Correctional Institute will replace the U.S. Penitentiary.
Moran said the construction of the new facility means the existing jobs at the U.S. Penitentiary will continue.
Moran said he will engage officials regarding a future use for the old prison that is beneficial for the economic well being of the community and preserve's the community's history with the prison.
BOP Director Michael Carvajal, who joined Moran Thursday in Leavenworth, said no decision has been made regarding the future use of the old USP. But he said BOP officials want to do something with the old prison.
"We can't let something like that be mothballed," he said.
Don Hudson, warden of the U.S. Penitentiary of Leavenworth, said the old prison was well built and its walls will continue to stand for a long time. But he said the infrastructure for the old prison has problems.
Hudson said it would cost more to renovate for continued use as a prison than to build a new facility.
Funding for the new prison and a satellite camp totals $356 million. The new prison will be built adjacent to the old USP on land owned by the BOP.
Moran toured the prison site Thursday. He then was joined by Carvajal and others at the headquarters of the Leavenworth Fire Department for a discussion about the new prison project.
The BOP is completing an environmental impact study, which is necessary before construction can begin.
"Normally that process takes about a year," Robert Nardi, a consultant for the BOP, said.
But he said the process may be completed early for the Leavenworth project.
Once the environment impact study process is completed, it likely will take 3.5 to four years to complete the design and construction of the new prison, said Hugh Hurwitz, assistant director for the BOP.
Leavenworth City Manager Paul Kramer said he was glad to hear about the planned reuse of the USP. He discussed the idea of creating a BOP training at the old prison as well as a museum. He said the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth may be the most well known prison in the United States after Alcatraz in San Francisco.