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Feds get two offers for Martinsburg halfway house

November 24, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Two proposals were submitted to operate a halfway house in Martinsburg, W.Va., according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

A letter from the bureau to the city of Martinsburg says Dismas Charities Inc. and Bannum Inc. made the proposals.

The deadline for submissions was Oct. 1.

Rebecca Canfield, a contracting officer for the bureau, said last month in an e-mail that the contract is a "negotiated procurement" and it could be months before it is awarded.

The bureau required that a halfway house, or Residential Reentry Center (RRC), be within a 40-mile radius of Martinsburg, which could have included other parts of the Tri-State area.

Hagerstown officials expressed concern that the halfway house might end up downtown. Police Chief Arthur Smith protested in a letter to the bureau, saying a halfway house could undo downtown revitalization progress and Hagerstown could become a "dumping ground" for out-of-state prisoners.

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Two Hagerstown property owners initially expressed interest in leasing downtown buildings for a halfway house, but later said no.

In an Oct. 9 letter, Kristin Brown, the deputy chief of the bureau's community corrections and detention services branch, wrote that Dismas and Bannum "indicated their proposed facilities are located in Martinsburg."

Dismas Charities spokesman Bob Yates said earlier this month that his organization would use part of an unfinished warehouse at 54 GM Access Road.

It's not clear where Bannum would place a halfway house in Martinsburg.

The house would have 12 to 24 beds, with two-thirds to three-quarters for men.

A one-year contract starts May 1, 2010, with four one-year options, according to a solicitation packet.

A halfway house is a transition for inmates nearing release.

"Nationwide, our inmates spend around three to four months in a RRC, although longer placements sometimes occur ...," Brown's letter to Martinsburg Mayor George Karos says. "Our experience shows that RRCs enhance public safety by offering offenders the opportunity to find employment, establish a residence, and reenter the community through a structured, supportive environment."

Federal contracts have "stringent requirements for inmate accountability, life safety, drug and alcohol testing, and other program areas," Brown wrote.

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