North Dakota is planning a $64 million expansion its state penitentiary, reports the Bismarck Tribune. “We’re hopeful that construction will start by October 2010 and that we would complete construction by November of 2012, two years once we start actually digging in the ground and start building,” said corrections director Leann Bertsch. The prison, which opened in 1884, houses 1,450 inmates, said Tim Schuetzle, warden since 1991, when there were about 500 inmates.
Among the major changes will be a new cell block to house general population inmates, an improved cell block to segregate unruly prisoners behind steel doors with Plexiglass, and a new clinic and infirmary. In what looks like scene out of a classic prison movie, the East Cell block houses 159 inmates in the oldest building. It does not meet a number of national standards with cells that are too small and noise levels that are too high. And there’s no central cooling or heating. “There are some smells and there is some noise, which isn’t always conducive to sleep all the time,” Schuetzle said.