Chillicothe will soon lose an old prison for women. Whether it gets a new one might well have been secured by voters in the northern Missouri community. It’s the smallest of the state’s prisons – an old structure, converted to become a prison, housing 525 women. The state wants a new prison to relieve overcrowding at the other women’s prison, in Vandalia. Chillicothe voters have approved extending a sales tax to finance the capital improvements necessary for construction of a new prison. State Corrections Director Larry Crawford says Chillicothe officials had already put together a good package and offered an attractive site northeast of the city. The vote might have cealed the deal. Chillicothe wants a new prison for its economic impact. Crawford says the state has an interest in keeping one there, because it has an experienced prison workforce in place. The Legislature budgeted $250,000 for planning a new women’s prison. It likely would resemble the Vandalia women’s prison, built for about 1,500 inmates, now housing nearly 2,000. A new Chillicothe prison might also contain a diagnostic center, space for a substance abuse program and a cook-chill facility that could cook meals for all northwest Missouri prisons.
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