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Nation's Oldest Prison West of the Mississippi May Stay Open Another Year

March 3, 2003
By: Christopher Shields
State Capital Bureau

The nation's oldest prison west of the Mississippi may stay open another year.

Christopher Shields reports from Jefferson City.

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Its the same prison James Earl Ray escaped from a year before he killed Martin Luther King.

The Jefferson City Correctional Center opened in 1836 and was expected to be replaced by a new facility next year.

But, since money is tight the House Budget Committee is giving the department of corrections half the money its asking for to open the new prison.

Meaning, the old prison may have to stay open another year.

Jefferson City representative Mark Bruns says it will be hard to get the funding back, even with an amendment.

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Contents: I don't relish the chance of offering an amendment that has no chance of passing. But, I would love to see that prison get open.

The funding measure still awaits a house debate.

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Its the same prison James Earl Ray escaped from one year before he killed Martin Luther King.

And, if a house committee gets it's way it will stay open another year.

Christopher Shields has more from Jefferson City.

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The Jefferson City Correctional Center opened in 1836 and is the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi.

The plan was to replace it with a new facility next year.

But, the house budget committee is only giving the department of corrections half of the money it needs to open the new prison.

Meaning, the old prison stays open another year.

Jefferson City lawmaker Mark Bruns says this isn't the best move.

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OutCue: new prison
Contents: I'm just afraid that all the money that it's going to cost to do the maintanince on the old prison to keep it open is possibly going to exceed the amount that it would just cost to go ahead and move into the new prison.

The funding measure still awaits a house debate.

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The nations oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi may stay open another year if a house committee has its way.

I'm Christopher Shields for Missouri Capitol Caucus.

In 1836 the Missouri State Penitentiary took its first prisoner.

It still stands today as the Jefferson City Correctional Center.

The plan is to replace the prison with a new facility next year.

But, with the house budget committee only appropriating half the money the new prison needs to open, the old prison may half to hold out another year.

Jefferson City lawmaker Mark Bruns says the prison may not be able to handle another year.

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The measure still has yet to have a full house debate.

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