FOX 11 Investigates: Governor 'interested' in prison proposal

Green Bay Correctional Institution as seen on March 23, 2017 (WLUK/Tim Flanigan).

ALLOUEZ (WLUK) -- Governor Scott Walker, R-Wisconsin, tells FOX 11 Investigates he is interested in a lawmaker's plan to close the maximum security prison in Allouez and build a new facility in the area.

“We've looked at it before. If you can make it cost effective, absolutely,” Walker said.

State Rep. David Steffen, R-Howard, wants the site to be redeveloped and a new prison built somewhere else in the area.

The Green Bay Correctional Institution has been in operation since 1898.

“In this budget, I am going to be proposing that we decommission that prison and we begin the process of building a new one,” Steffen said on Thursday.

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“We're talking $80 million worth of economic development possibility,” Steffen said.

Steffen is still working on the details of the plan but he says it would include the construction of a new prison in Brown County, or in a neighboring county.

FOX 11 Investigates asked the governor about the prison’s future after an event at Mishicot High School.

“It's something we'd be very interested in,” Walker said.

Walker says the big question would be the cost.

“I think part of the key with that would be making sure we weren't incurring new building costs without the ability to offset that in terms of the sale and development of an alternative site,” Walker said. “So in the case of Green Bay, if that was to be closed we'd want to make sure there was a reasonable plan to use the proceeds from the sale and development of that site once it was removed in a way that could more than pay for the capital cost of building another site.”

Right now, the facility is home to 1,094 prisoners. That's well above it's designed capacity of 749.

“Having newer facilities here or anywhere else across the country actually allows for better sight lines and other ways of actually being able to more effectively manage those facilities,” Walker said.

Steffen plans to unveil the details of his plan within the next month. After that, he says he will work with the state's budget committee to get it included in the budget.

The proposal has a long way to go before anything changes at the prison. Even if the plan is approved, Steffen says it would take four or five years to close the facility and build a new prison.

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