The Massachusetts Correction Commission is negotiating with Middlesex County Commissioners to lease the East Cambridge jail as a part of an overhaul of the state prison system.
In a press conference at the State House yesterday, William T. Hogan Jr., state correction commissioner, announced he will ask for a $2.65 million appropriation for the jail as part of the budget for the next fiscal year.
The East Cambridge jail was originally built as part of the County Courthouse but has never been used as a jail.
"The money was appropriated to have the Department of Correction take over 123 beds to be used as a classification center," Robert Hasset, one of Hogan's public information officers, said yesterday.
Hasset added that the courts, instead of assigning a prisoner to a specific prison would now send all the state's convicts to East Cambridge before reassignment to another institution.
The appropriation was one of several changes Hogan announced yesterday as a result of a federal task force report recommending improvements for the institution at Walpole, the state's only maximum security prison.
The centralized system is designed to improve a long-standing problem with inadequate classification, the report states.
City councilor Walter L. Sullivan said yesterday he and another councilor had opposed the idea of making the East Cambridge jail into a full-fledged prison because they did not want a prison in the neighborhood. "But it's up to the commission and the state," he added.
The task force recommended changes in administration, such as centralizing the entire state prison system, and renovations to both facilities and programs.
Hogan added that several of the state's prison problems are related to inefficiencies in management, and he will design a five-year master management plan with special emphasis on a team management concept.