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Public hearing conducted for proposed prison

John Richmeier
jrichmeier@leavenworthtimes.com

Only one comment was submitted during a public hearing concerning a proposed new federal prison in Leavenworth. But members of the public still have time to submit comments to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Officials with the BOP have proposed constructing a Federal Correctional Institution and Federal Prison Camp on the grounds of the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth. The new FCI would replace the existing penitentiary. But BOP officials have said they want to find a new use for the old prison.

Kimberly Hudson, site selection specialist for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, hosted the public hearing, which took place Thursday. She said aging facilities is an issue facing the BOP.

“Among the oldest is the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth which opened in 1906 and has been housing inmates for over 100 years,” she said.

The FCI will be designed to house about 1,152 medium-security male inmates. The camp will be designed to house about 256 minimum-security male inmates. Allocated funding for the new prison and satellite camp totals $356 million.

Thursday’s public hearing was conducted using an online videoconferencing service.

“Normally, the public hearing would be held in person in a meeting room in Leavenworth,” Hudson said.

But the meeting was held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thirty-nine people, including several people involved in the project, participated in the meeting.

Hudson said the hearing was held as part of a process required by the the National Environmental Policy Act.

An environmental impact statement for a new federal prison in Leavenworth was published in 2015. But because of a lack of funding at that time, there was no formal decision to move forward with the project.

Now that the project is funded, the NEPA process has resumed and a draft of a supplemental environmental impact statement has been prepared.

The document can be found on the project’s website, www.proposed-fci-fpc-leavenworth.com

Hudson said Thursday’s hearing provided people the opportunity to comment on the draft of the supplemental environmental impact as well as the proposed project in general.

Video of Thursday’s hearing has been posted to the project’s website.

Members of the public still have the opportunity to provide written comments through Jan. 4. Comments can be mailed to: Kimberly S. Hudson, Site Selection Specialist, Construction & Environmental Review Branch, Federal Bureau of Prisons, 320 First St., NW, Room 901-5, Washington, DC, 20534.

Comments also can be sent by email to kshudson@bop.gov

People also can call 202-616-2574 or submit comments by fax at 202-260-0702.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR