JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington -- The U.S. Army Correctional Activity and the 508th Military Police Detention Battalion hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony, Dec. 1, announcing the opening of the Northwestern Joint Regional Correctional Facility.
“This is a historic moment for Joint Base Lewis-McChord,” said Maj. Gen. Duane R. Miller, USACA commander. “It’s historic for our entire region.”
The prisoner population of the NWJRCF will consist of all Department of Defense personnel, including Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard personnel, with sentences less than one year or those in pre-trial confinement.
The facility opens as a level one medium security correctional facility with an operational capacity of 100 detainees.
“It’s fully equipped to expand to a level two facility,” says Miller, “confining up to 150 pre and post-trial prisoners with up to five years, complete with a host of vocational and treatment programs, capable of housing female prisoners and those with medical requirements.”
“The NWJRCF provides not only America’s First Corps but the entire Department of Defense a unique opportunity to rehabilitate its own,” says Miller.
The previous correctional facility was demolished in early 2020, at the onset of the COVID pandemic, said Miller. Construction began shortly thereafter, modernizing design with a focus on prisoner safety and rehabilitation.
The main feature is the prisons centralized construction, which accommodates detainees, healthcare facilities, and prisoner programs within one building thereby minimizing the need for escort between areas and eliminating barriers to prisoner access to care.
“There is no substitute for our ability to take care of people, and contribute to the health, safety, security, and well-being of prisoners, enhancing their chance of rehabilitation, while decreasing their risk of recidivism,” says Miller.
Lt. Col Emil J. Kesselring, commander of the 508th Military Police Detention Battalion, expanded upon the programs available to detainees at the new prison.
“This facility boasts a state-of-the-art medical suite, which provides medical and dental care for the prisoners,” says Kesselring. “We have a behavioral health section which has both group and individual therapy rooms for our prisoners to receive individual counseling and more intensive care.”
Programs supported will include Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, sex offender treatment, and trauma-informed care.
“These programs are vitally important to the recovery and treatment prisoners need for a safe reentry either into continued service if they are returned to duty or civilian life,” says Kesselring.
In addition to medical treatment, detainees will also be able to learn new skills and build a pathway to employment upon release. Programs such as bee keeping courses, the canine companion program, and a horticulture program where prisoners can receive 82 college credits through a local technical college and learn marketable skills for future employment, says Kesselring.
At the opening ceremony, Kesselring remarked on the accomplishments of his Soldiers while thanking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, and Walsh Construction Group for the timely completion of the facility.
Construction was completed within “1,056 days without injury or incident,” says Kesselring. “This achievement earned them the voluntary protection program star from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is no small feat.”