DEER LODGE — Crews restored heat to a unit on the low-security area of Montana State Prison Wednesday after the system malfunctioned late last week.
“We’re relieved to have everything back up and running properly,” Montana Department of Corrections Director Brian Gootkin said. “But this incident emphasized the dire need for the infrastructure improvements approved by the 2023 Montana Legislature.”
The Montana State Prison maintenance team responded immediately to the outage when it was reported, but discovered they needed to order a part and bring in a contract plumber to fix the 25-year-old boiler.
In the interim, staff provided the 51 affected inmates with extra blankets, clothing, and space heaters. Coffee and hot chocolate were available in the unit.
“The unit – which was built in the 1970s — is one of those slated to be replaced with the $211 million Governor Gianforte and the legislature dedicated to construction and improvements at MSP,” said Gootkin. “After decades of deferring maintenance and kicking the can down the road, MSP has fallen into disrepair that threatens officer and inmate safety. This most recent incident just shows that the longer we wait to invest in critical infrastructure, the greater the risk that something can go wrong. We’re thankful our lawmakers agreed to help us build for the future of corrections in Montana, repairing MSP and ultimately expanding its capacity.”
Architect DLR and contractor Sletten Construction were selected through a competitive process this fall to complete building projects at MSP including the replacement of the low-security housing.