DOC concerned about closing four prisons

August 10, 2011 2:54:40 PM PDT
The Durham Correctional Center is first of four prisons that officials have chosen to close across the state, and more than 200 inmates from that facility will be placed in prisons with very little extra room.

According to state legislator who ordered the prisons to close, DCC is well past its prime.

"We're closing four really outdated prisons that are very uneconomical to run," Republican Leo Daughtry of Johnston County explained.

He says the state is broke and all departments are being asked to make cuts, including the Department of Correction.

"There are going to be consequences," said Pam Walker, DOC. "We have yet to determine what the full impact will be of these budget cuts, but we have great concerns."

Among the concerns are that overcrowding could lead to problems when the DCC closes in October and three other prisons across the state with a total of 800 inmates close by December 1st.

"Any time that you have to put inmates into tighter conditions, we have concerns about our staff safety, the other inmates' safety, as well as the potential impact on public safety," Walker added.

The state is adding space at some of the more modern prisons, including 2,800 beds, which is more than three times as many as they are eliminating. However, only 400 of the new beds will be ready by the time the prisons close.

State legislators say the DOC assured them they could handle the cuts or they wouldn't have been made.

"We would not do anything that would jeopardize the safety of our guards and the prison officials or the prisoners for that matter," Daughtry said.

Correction officials are cautiously optimistic that a new legislative effort to reform the prison system will result in more savings and fewer inmates.

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