st. anthony work camp

Inside the St. Anthony Work Camp.

ST. ANTHONY − Last year the Idaho Department of Correction tried to purchase the old Lincoln school building for an expansion to the St. Anthony Work Camp but were unable to. This year they’ve acquired funds to build a $7 million expansion into the south end of the building.

Glenn Armstrong, Warden at the SAWC came before the St. Anthony City Council during their Aug. 8 meeting and told them that the SAWC would be getting an addition to the building. He said they would begin construction sometime in January of 2020.

Armstrong said he spoke with Mayor Donald Powell in July about the expansion and took him on a tour of the facility.

“If you haven’t been down there, get with Glenn and take a look,” Powell said to his council members. “It’s impressive what they do with the space they have.”

Glenn said inmates don’t “just warm up a bed,” he said they learn valuable skills for their future and take on responsibilities and work for the community.

Jeff Ray, public information officer for the Department of Corrections, said the SAWC has been in the area for almost 30 years. It opened sometime in 1990.

“[SAWC] is designed to house 262 low-risk, minimum and community-custody male inmates. The facility’s primary focus is to provide a vocational work project opportunities offering full-time, constructive, paid employment to inmates,” according to their website. “This is accomplished through contracted work and public service projects with government agencies, non-profit organizations and private employers. The program helps inmates develop good work habits, a positive work ethic and marketable work skills while providing a financial resource to meet immediate and future needs.”

Ray said that SAWC has acquired all the funding necessary for its expansion project. The company who will be working on the project is Core/Headwaters Construction Co.

He said they hope to add on 125 beds to their current facility that currently houses 276 inmates but that it depends on the outcome of the design phase. He said the addition will require an expansion to the kitchen and laundry areas as well as visiting and administration.

When asked how many offenders could be housed after the expansion he said: “Much will depend on the outcome of the design phase, but our target capacity is approximately 400 beds.”

Ray said the SAWC houses as many as 364 inmates annually.

Armstrong said that an increase in their inmates is a benefit for many in the area looking for workers.

“The men at SAWC work for many agriculture entities including Walters Produce, Sunglo, NorSun, Wilcox and High County. All have asked for more workers,” Ray said. “They typically work eight-hour shifts, Monday through Friday. The offenders earn an incentive for working. They are able to pay fines, child support restitution, and funds to assist for their release, such as first months rent, transportation, etc.”

Due to the expansion, the facility will need to hire more employees.

“SAWC will be hiring more officers, including food service staff and administration,” Ray said.

When asked how the expansion will benefit the community Ray said:

“SAWC expansion will have many benefits. More offenders will get the opportunity to learn life skills, such as marketable job skills, responsibility, accountability, etc. SAWC will be seeking new employees which will be a positive economic growth for St. Anthony and the surrounding areas. SAWC will continue to be a great neighbor and partner with county, city and surrounding areas.”

Victoria Varnedoe

Rexburg Standard Journal

To contact Victoria email her at vvarnedoe@uvsj.com or call her at 208.356.5441. at extension 13.