Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.) asked the General Accounting Office yesterday to review expenditures for Lorton Reformatory to make certain government funds are being used to increase security at -- but not expand -- the District-run prison.
Saying he wants Lorton safer, not bigger, the Virginia congressman, said he is concerned that D.C. officials are on the verge of spending $12 million in federal funds to upgrade and expand a facility that Fairfax County officials want to relocate in the District. The money has already been appropriated by Congress.
Parris, who represents southern Fairfax constituents who live near the 3,000-acre prison, recently got a look at an itemized budget for the complex, which his office said seems to earmark only $2 million of the $12 million for security improvements.
"We want Lorton to be more secure, but in the future we want it closed," Parris, a longtime critic of the complex, said.
Of particular concern, according to a Parris aide, is a budget proposal to spend $2.4 million to convert an alcoholic treatment center at the complex into a medium-security facility.
Prison officials say the converted center would house 400 to 500 of Lorton's 2,800 inmates.
William D. Golightly, assistant director for administration for the D.C. Department of Corrections, said yesterday the District would not spend money without specific authority from Congress. He confirmed there are tentative plans to convert the treatment center into a prison facility but declined to list other budget expenditures.
"But virtually everything we do has to do with security," Golightly said.
Parris' request for a GAO review came after meeting with Fairfax County Board Chairman John F. Herrity, one of several county officials who have criticized security at the prison.
In January, the county and D.C. Mayor Marion Barry agreed to appoint a joint task force to recommend ways to reduce prison escapes.
Parris argued yesterday that the county's primary goal remains moving the prison into the District. He has sponsored legislation asking the Bureau of Prisons to study the feasibility of moving Lorton to surplus federal property near the Anacostia River.
A Parris aide said the Virginia congressman thinks spending $12 million to maintain and upgrade Lorton "is a waste when for $60 million you could get a whole new prison nearer the D.C. Jail and more convenient to the District families" who now visit inmates in southern Fairfax County.