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Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John's overlooks Quidi Vidi Lake on June 9, 2011.Paul Daly/The Canadian Press

The Newfoundland and Labrador government says a company has been selected to prepare the land where a replacement for its crumbling, 1850s-era jail will be built.

The Department of Justice said in a release Wednesday it has awarded a contract for site remediation at the 12-hectare spot in the east end of St. John’s, N.L.

The new jail will accommodate 264 inmates in medium– and high-security settings, as well as 12 beds for community reintegration.

It will replace Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, which was built in 1859 and has long faced criticism from inmates, lawyers and advocates for its disintegrating infrastructure.

A provincial Supreme Court judge highlighted the facility’s rodent problems in a decision earlier this month, saying inmates had to hang their food from the ceiling in order to keep it away from the mice.

The Justice Department says it expects a proposal for the new facility later this year.

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