By Mike Dunn

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A City Council committee has signed off on a plan to purchase land in Northeast Philadelphia for what could be the first new prison in the city in more than a decade.

On Monday, City Council’s public property committee approved a plan to spend about $7.2 million to purchase 58 acres of privately owned land on which the city would build a new House of Corrections.

Prisons commissioner Louis Giorla said the site, on State Road, is both close to other city prisons and far from residential areas.

“This, we feel, is a unique opportunity to have our operations consolidated and remain on State Road,” he told the lawmakers.  “If we had to select a site this size to accommodate a facility that large elsewhere in the city, I don’t think we’d find community support.”

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The House of Corrections dates from the late 19th century, and Giorla says it does not support modern correctional practices.

The money approved by the committee is only for the land purchase; a new prison would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and it would fall to the next mayor to spearhead that effort.

The last new prison built by the city — the Riverside Correctional Facility, for female inmates — opened in 2004.


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