25 Years Later, ECI is a Bright Spot for Somerset County
WBOC 16 - Online

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WESTOVER, Md.- When the Eastern Correctional Institution in 1987, many people in Somerset County were scared of what could happen with a prison nearby. Now, 25 years later, the facility has possibly made the biggest financial impact for Somerset County.

ECI Capt. Bruce Brimer was part of the first class trained for the prison. He said, "Initially, when they first started talking about it in 1985, there was a lot of apprehension from residents. But as the opening came closer, they adapted to the concept that we were going to have a state correctional facility here."

Now ECI houses more than 3,000 inmates and employs around 1,000 people. The prison's annual budget is $102 million.

Former warden Gen. Bob Harleston said he knew from the beginning it was a good idea.

"To me it seemed like it was a wonderful opportunity to provide jobs for people in the community and I think one of the challenges they had was to show the community that ECI could be a good neighbor," he said.

That's just what they did. In 25 years there have been no escapes and some inmates even do supervised jobs in the Somerset County community that no one wants to do and that means no jobs are taken from citizens.