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BOISE -- Idaho Gov. C.L. Butch Otter is putting his support behind a plan for the state Department of Corrections to build a secure mental health facility near Boise.

Corrections Department Director Brent Reinke hopes to issue $70 million in bonds to pay for the nearly 600-bed unit, which is expected to hold a combination of mentally ill prisoners and people who aren't criminals but who have been involuntarily committed through the civil courts.

The Legislature first authorized $70 million to build the facility in 2008, but the project was put on hold in 2010 as questions arose about staffing, operations and other economic factors.

Idaho's prison population has since increased, along with the mental health needs of the state's inmates.

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