The cost of closing a prison

Mark Mulholland
Updated: October 06, 2014 06:59 PM
Created: October 06, 2014 06:58 PM

NewsChannel 13 has received a long-awaited response from the Department Of Corrections and Community Supervision.

It's regarding taxpayer money spent to pay employees long after the inmates were gone from Mount McGregor State Prison.

NewsChannel 13 began asking questions in early May about the cost of closing Mt. McGregor. We got a response last month, nearly two months after the prison was completely shuttered and five months after the inmates were gone.

The last of the inmates were transferred out of Mt. McGregor in April.

However, state employees reported to work for months after the inmates were gone.

NewsChannel 13 asked the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision some questions back in May, first by phone, and then in writing -- namely, how many employees DOCCS plan to keep on, and for how long?

After more than four months, and at least one apparent violation of the Freedom of Information Act, and an appeal from NewsChannel 13, DOCCS' reply finally came back on Sept. 17, after all of the employees were gone.

It did not answer the question, except to remind us that corrections law requires one-year notice to employees and unions before the closing, and workers who wanted to, could continue to report to the empty prison -- even if there was no work for them.

We also asked what the employees working there were doing, what their job titles were and what their responsibilities are at a prison without inmates.

DOCCS' response included a list of 65 positions, their Civil Service job descriptions, and no mention of what employees were doing at the empty facility, other than "participating in the de-commissioning process."

The only response that directly answered NewsChannel 13's question were payroll records.

During part of the time there were no inmates at Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility, taxpayers paid employees $1.265 million.

The list of employees still on payroll at the empty prison included a doctor, a dental hygienist, an education supervisor, a senior radiological technician and a teacher, but again there were no inmates to care for or teach.

NewsChannel 13 plans to ask DOCCS more questions. When we get the answers, we'll share them with you.


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