Due to a Pennsylvania decision remove roughly 1,000 its inmates who were incarcerated in Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Tuesday he has ordered the Department of Corrections to close the Mecklenburg Correctional Center in Boydton by May as a cost cutting measure.
Pennsylvania's removal of it's prisoners from the commonwealth is expected to cost the state nealy $20 million a year.
The state is expected to save an additional $10,000 per inmate by transferring the inmates housed at the 35-year-old Mecklenburg facility to the more modern Green Rock Correctional Center in Chatham, which opened in 2007. The out-of-state prisoners were housed at Green Rock, which has a capacity for approximately 300 more inmates than Mecklenburg.
"In these difficult times, it is incumbent upon the Department of Corrections and state government to ensure that public safety continues to be paramount and, while doing so, to be the best stewards of taxpayer’s money," McDonnell said in a press release. "By transferring the prisoners in Mecklenburg Correctional Center to our other facility in Pittsylvania County we will save approximately $10,000 per inmate on an annual basis."
McDonnell has asked state agencies to help find employment for the 300 state employees at the prison and to help minimize the economic impact of closing the prison on the local economy.
"While this closing is the fiscally responsible step to take, I know the hardship it will present for the employees of the Mecklenburg Correctional Center and the surrounding community," McDonnell said. "Our administration is committed to working with those employees, and local partners, to provide as much assistance as possible in the wake of this announcement."
Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker said up to 50 percent of the employees at Mecklenburg prison can be moved in to vacant positions within the Department of Corrections.
“I have tasked the department to work directly with all employees at the facility to answer questions, explain options, and place as many of them in other positions as possible," Decker said. "We believe we can place 45 to 50 percent of MCC employees in currently vacant positions within the Department of Corrections. We will also work hard to find positions in other state and local agencies for those who we cannot place within the Department of Corrections.”
McDonnell sent Decker and his chief of staff Martin Kent to the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors to personally inform board members of the closing. He said Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Economic Development Mary Rae Carter will work with the community to help them weather the loss of the state prison.