SALEM, W.Va. — State Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein said Wednesday he believes the transformation of the Salem Industrial Home for Youth to a state prison for adult men will benefit the community.
Rubenstein joined Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and others Wednesday for a dedication ceremony. The Salem facility, for years the home for juveniles who had committed serious crimes, is now home to more than 300 minimum security inmates. Rubenstein said many will be allowed outside privileges to help in the community.
“They will be working on outside crews and they also be able to do community service projects,” Commissioner Rubenstein said.
The correctional facility had about 305 inmates Wednesday nearing its capacity of 388. The inmates have come from other facilities in the state prison system but the transfers will eventually filter down to relieve overcrowding in the state’s regional jails. There are currently more than 1,000 state inmates in regional jails that can’t make it into state prisons because of overcrowding.
Rubenstein said the Salem facility was in good shape and not much had to be done to get it ready for adults.
“We had to order some beds and of course some painting, general cleanup, elbow grease, nothing major had to take place,” he said.
Most of the staff is made up of holdovers from the Salem juvenile operation. The new adult prison is officially classified as a minimum low-medium security prison.
Rubenstein said one of the units will be used for the Division of Corrections’ Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program.
The legislature approved the transition from kids to adults earlier this year at Salem. The juveniles have been moved to other facilities. That followed and order from Mercer County Circuit Judge Omar Aboulhosn based on conditions at Salem pointed out in a lawsuit from Mountain State Justice.