State director says "no one will lose their job", after announcement to close North Charleston prison

Published: Feb. 25, 2015 at 11:19 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2015 at 11:47 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - A state prison facility in North Charleston is set to close it doors for good, moving dozens of workers and even more inmates.

Coastal Pre-Release Center, a minimum security prison for men, located at 3765 Leeds Avenue, currently houses over a hundred inmates, and 39 staff members.

The inmates have served the majority of their sentence, and are given the opportunity to reintegrate themselves into the community through work release programs.

The center is scheduled to close April 1, 2015.

Bryan Stirling, Director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections said the move saves taxpayer money, and will increase security at other facilities across the state.

"My team came to me and said Coastal has open beds, a lot of open beds," he said.

"What do you want to do?"

The Department of Corrections leases 2/3 of the Leeds Avenue property from Charleston County.  Officials say consolidating its facilities could save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Since it opened in 1970, officials say the inmate count at Coastal has steadily decreased.

Stirling attributes the decline to sentencing reform and successful rehabilitation programs.

Inmates will be moved to comparable minimum security prisons in Rock Hill, Florence, and Columbia, while current staff will relocate to MacDougall Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, where Stirling says increased security is needed.

"It just didn't make sense to me to have an open dorm at one institution where other institutions at our level twos, are maxed out."

SCDC officials say the center's closing should not effect the agency's ability to offer pre-release programming for inmates, and are working with the Department of Employment workforce to secure opportunities for Coastal inmates.

"No one is going to be losing their job," Stirling said.

The center on Leeds Avenue will continue to offer video-conferencing services, allowing families to see their loved-ones in Columbia-area prisons.

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