The Washington Times - December 13, 2011, 12:58PM

A prison in southside Virginia will shutter its doors after Pennsylvania said it was taking back the 1,000 prisoners housed there, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Tuesday.

Revenue from the Mecklenburg Correctional Center totals about $20 million a year for Virginia. Closing the facility and consolidating prisoners to the Green Rock Correctional Center in Chatham will increase the department’s capacity by about 300 beds and decrease the state’s cost per inmate from about $29,562 per inmate at MCC to $19,215 per year at Green Rock.

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MCC, opened in 1976, requires significant ongoing maintenance work, while Greenrock was finished in 2007.

“Virginia’s prisons are an important part of our public safety system,” Mr. McDonnell said. “We also know that they play a significant role in local economies and provide jobs. 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.”

Mr. McDonnell said prison Director Harold Clarke estimated that at least 45 or 50 percent of existing employees can be placed in vacant positions in the Department of Corrections.

Mr. McDonnell’s chief of staff, Martin Kent, and Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker attended the Mecklenberg County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday night to personally inform them of the closing, and Department of Corrections leadership notified prison employees.

The offenders housed at MCC will be transferred to other prison facilities in the state, with the goal of shutting the facility by May of next year.