FEMA allocates $24.5M to Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded nearly $24.5 million for permanent repairs to the facilities of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) due to damage caused by Hurricane María in 2017.
The funds will address damage to correctional institutions, as well as structures where inmates receive rehabilitation services, the federal agency stated.
“As the agency responsible for providing custody and rehabilitation to the correctional population, the Department needs facilities that allow its staff to provide quality services. The agency’s funding seeks to support the standards of the correctional system, while preserving the health and safety of inmates, employees and visitors,” said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator José Baquero.
The Guayama Correctional Complex, which houses about 1,200 inmates, is one of the DCR’s main projects. More than $11.3 million will be used for roof treatment to prevent leaks, acrylic domes to protect equipment against wind pressure, replacement of the air conditioners and solar panels, and surge protectors for the electric gates, among other work. Repairs will consider mitigation measures for future weather events.
The hurricane damage to these structures affected educational, medical, recreational, religious, and socio-penal services, said DCR Secretary Ana I. Escobar-Pabón, adding that now that these funds have been allocated, the DCR will begin the development of its projects with the Puerto Rico Infrastructure Financing Authority (AFI, in Spanish) and the Puerto Rico General Services Administration (GSA).
“FEMA’s funds allow us to provide continuity to the services and programs offered by the DCR to incarcerated individuals and employees. Meanwhile, these funds help us to immediately address the consequences of an atmospheric event in a correctional system and thus comply with the standards regulated by law,” said Escobar-Pabón.
Another award for the department is for the Arecibo Correctional Institution in the Florida neighborhood, which houses more than 200 inmates. With an allocation of nearly $2.4 million, most of the work will focus on repairs with mitigation measures. They will reinforce the fences, waterproof the roof to mitigate the impact of flying debris and prevent leaks from heavy rains, and install surge protectors for electrical equipment.
Repairs to the training and labor program facilities
Escobar-Pabón said occupational workshops are among the most beneficial programs for inmates because they promote self-sufficiency and help them reintegrate into the community after serving their sentences.
In line with this, FEMA awarded funds to the DCR for the Training and Work Program building in Bayamón. The program offers training and business development, focusing on cooperative, self-management and employment organizations. Workshops include woodworking, upholstery, sewing, car washing, and solid-waste collection.
About $250,000 from the agency will cover repairs to the woodworking and welding areas. Some of the work will mitigate damage to the structure by anchoring exhaust fans and sealing the roof to protect against impacts from flying debris.