Building the Future of Corrections in NWI

Building the Future of Corrections in NWI

By Annie Goeller, Deputy Commissioner of Strategic Alignment, Indiana Department of Correction.

Ask a group of people to describe prison and you’ll most likely hear them mention steel bars, barbed wire fences and inmates in striped uniforms. But corrections today is about much more than just locking people up.

When I first started working at the Indiana Department of Correction, I had many of those same ideas. But I quickly learned that Indiana is leading the way in corrections, especially in programming and services for the incarcerated population — a significant contributing factor to Indiana recently reaching its lowest recidivism rate in years.

Now, with the construction of a new $1.2 billion correctional facility in Westville, Indiana is poised to redefine the future of corrections.

The planning process for this facility has been years in the making, involving visits worldwide to incorporate best practices and technological advancements. The result is a 1.4-million-square-foot maximum security facility that will house up to 4,200 incarcerated individuals and employ 700 DOC staff and more than 200 contracted staff.

Let’s take a deeper dive into what makes this facility more than just a prison:

 

Comprehensive Education and Training:

  • 18,000 square feet of classroom space for diverse programming and education – more than any other Indiana DOC facility.
  • Multiple vocational training options including HVAC, automotive services, food services, RV repair, and more, empowering individuals with valuable skills for successful reintegration into their communities.

Targeted Support Services:

  • Dedicated spaces for addiction recovery and behavioral health services, addressing the critical needs of incarcerated individuals, since more than 80 percent would benefit from one or both of those services.

Enhanced Safety and Security:

  • Secure, elevated central security stations, providing a constant watch over housing units and the staff working inside them.
  • Innovative perimeter design to prevent contraband from coming in from the outside.

Technological Advancements:

  • Cutting-edge camera, internet, and communications systems to monitor the population effectively and provide essential support to staff.

For the first time in decades, we have had the opportunity to design a facility to meet our changing needs, not just of the incarcerated population but of our staff too.

As an agency, a significant part of our focus should be on the incarcerated population that we are tasked with serving by offering programming and services to help support their successful re-entry to society.

At the same time, that work would not be possible without our dedicated staff of more than 5,500 employees statewide.

Like many employers and Departments of Correction across the nation, the Indiana DOC has faced challenges with recruitment and retention of staff.

Staffing is a constant topic of conversation amongst our leadership team. We have spent years looking into what our staff need and how to better support them through surveys and opportunities for feedback.

One of the key messages is that staff want to feel supported, and that is something that we have aimed to address with this facility. The new facility will include areas specifically designed to support our staff their challenging jobs.

The completion of this modern facility in the next 3-4 years will mark a significant milestone in Indiana’s progressive approach to corrections. It symbolizes our commitment to rehabilitation, staff welfare, and community safety. Lessons learned from this facility will be shared with our other locations throughout the state, helping shape the future of corrections in Indiana.

 

 


Image of the Indiana State Prison from the NWI Forum.

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Category Features, Last Word