Published December 1992 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Joining the Front Lines in Law Enforcement
West Virginians will benefit from a recent realization on the part of Federal Bureau of Prisons officials that sometimes more is less.
More, in this case, is a decision by that agency to increase the capacity of its planned medium security prison in Beckley by an estimated 50 percent. And less represents the savings in federal tax dollars that the Bureau of Prisons will realize by enlarging the Beckley prison instead of building a new facility elsewhere in order to gain the additional prison space that it desperately needs.
Expanding the scope of the Raleigh County federal prison project is an excellent way for federal prison officials to meet the challenge of maintaining or improving the level of service they offer while working under increasingly tight budgetary constraints. .
The Beckley prison, being built on land donated by Raleigh County with funds I added to a 1990 appropriation bill as part of a nationwide crime-fighting and anti-drug package, originally was to be staffed by 250 personnel and to accommodate 1,000 inmates.
Prison officials advised me recently that they have revised their plans and will expand the facility to accommodate a total of 1,536 inmates (1,152 medium security and 384 minimum security), with a staff of 325 personnel.
While construction costs will be higher than originally anticipated--an exact figure has not been released by the Bureau of Prisons--and operating costs will increase, the price tag on enlarging the new Beckley prison is significantly lower than the cost of building a separate facility at another location.
That kind of planning makes sense, and I am pleased that West Virginia will directly benefit from the Bureau of Prison's cost-saving move.
In addition to the new federal prison, West Virginia, with my help, has recently become home to two additional elements of the nation's crime-fighting system: the Clarksburg FBI Fingerprint Identification Division and the U.S. Coast Guard Operations System Center in the Eastern Panhandle.
The Fingerprint Identification Division--with an estimated 2,500 employees and an annual payroll of $75 million--will give law enforcement personnel throughout the nation state-of- the-art crime solving technology.
And the Coast Guard's new center in Martinsburg-with its staff of 90 civilian and military personnel--will play a crucial role in efforts against drug smuggling into this country, in addition to supporting other Coast Guard law-enforcement activities worldwide.
As never before, these three facilities place West Virginia in the front lines of the fight against crime, and, in so doing, add an extra dimension to our state's economic picture.
December 16, 1992