Prison Potential in Denmark?


By Charles Collier, The Denmark News

Allouez President Jim Rafter is behind pending bills in Madison which would allow the sale of the Green Bay Correctional Facility which lies within the village’s borders. Rafter appeared before the Brown County Board of Supervisors on June 21 to push for a resolution supporting the bill authored by Rep. David Steffen and co-sponsored by Senator Frank Lasee.

Rafter, citing $20 million in road repair and infrastructure needs, made clear that the riverside property on which the 119-year-old facility lies is, “some of the most prime real estate…in the northeast Wisconsin area,” adding that, “$80-$100 million dollars of taxable property” could be added by development.

While Allouez vies for more economic output of its land, Rafter noted intrigue amongst nearby municipalities for the proposed privately-owned/publicly-operated facility. The proposal requires the new prison to be built in either Brown County or an adjacent county.

Rafter said there are several communities interested in hosting the proposed new facility and alongside Luxemburg and Algoma, Denmark was mentioned by name as, “wanting to be considered.”

Denmark President Greg Mleziva said the Village would be interested in hosting a new prison facility in replacement of GBCI. Whether the measure passes and where such a site would go in Denmark are still uncertain.

Denmark’s inclusion in this pool raised eyebrows and curiosity within the village. In a phone interview, President Greg Mleziva said that the village had responded to an email survey gauging municipal interest in hosting a new maximum-security prison.

“It’s something the board would be interested in exploring, but at this point it’s all very general,” Mleziva said.

“There’s not really any land within the village that would work, so if it came to that we would look at annexing land from the Town of New Denmark,” Mleziva said.

Denmark’s president ruled out village-owned land near the Interstate 43 interchange and the Norse Business Park, saying development goals for the land are to, “draw people off the interstate and get them to come into the village and see what we have to offer.”

Rafter estimates that the host municipality could gain between $1 million and $4 million dollars in revenue from the proposed facility with a 2022 completion deadline outlined in the bill.

Much is still pure speculation as AB 292 is still under review by the Committee on Corrections. Lasee’s mirroring senate bill, SB 228, is still in the Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection.