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Center closing criticized

Sixth District Delegate Anne B. Crockett-Stark (R-Wytheville) is asking Gov. Timothy Kaine to reconsider his decision to close Pulaski Correctional Center, citing area unemployment figures and jail overcrowding as two main concerns.
In the letter, Crockett-Stark says the announcement of the closing left her with “mixed feelings” because while she understands the need to cut state spending, “I have great concern about the closing of the Pulaski prison.”
The closing of the facility, off Morgan’s Cut Road (Old Route 11), was announced last week as part of Kaine’s October 2008 reduction plan for the 2009 fiscal year budget. The plan estimates the state will be able to save just over $1.6 million by closing the center.
Although Kaine’s plan specifies 62 employees will lose their jobs, Crockett-Stark indicates the closing will affect 128 employees.
She goes on to point out that the state has spent over $100,000 on improvements at the prison in order to make it a “clean and efficiently-run facility.” The improvements she cites include: updates to the bathrooms by installing low-flow showers, toilets and sinks; a new parking lot; new paint; new heating and air conditioning units; and new solar panels.
“As you are aware, Pulaski is also a field unit. It has not paid any overtime since 1989, and it houses its prisoners at the annual cost of approximately $17,000, which is significantly lower than the statewide average of $31,000,” she states.
Crockett-Stark also notes that the prison offers programs such as Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous, religious services and counseling to prepare inmates for transition back into society upon release from confinement.
“I know that you support these kinds of services in order that prisoners will be successful when they return to society,” Crockett-Stark’s letter to the governor states.
She says she realizes Kaine’s decisions are difficult and indicates she believes “you (Kaine) are a governor who does care greatly about our state’s operations.”
Nonetheless, she says, closing the Pulaski and Tazewell field units will increase lost job opportunity in an area already hit by 1,000 permanent layoffs at Volvo.

She said Pulaski will suffer even more since she believes Tazewell prison employees should be given “the first opportunity” to be hired at Pocahontas.
Pocahontas and Bland are expected to “take care of some of the slack,” according to what Crockett-Stark says the state’s Public Safety secretary told her.
Crockett-Stark also asks what the state intends to do with the 422 inmates currently housed at the Pulaski facility “with most of our prisons already being overcrowded.”
Crockett-Stark questions whether new mobile units or infrastructure will be required at existing prisons to absorb the local inmates.
“I also have concern that regional jails, which are also overcrowded, will be housing prisoners longer waiting on the state to make the transfer to state prisons,” she adds.
Crockett-Stark asks whether legislators will be asked to subsequently fund new buildings at regional jails and be putting heavy burdens on the jails.
The Pulaski facility, constructed in 1955, is one of six correctional facilities statewide that the governor proposes to close to help make up for an estimated $2.5 billion shortfall in revenue through 2010.

Last week, Seventh District Rep. Dave Nutter (R-Christiansburg) expressed “complete surprise” at the planned closing of the Pulaski facility, noting that neither he nor county officials had any warning of the announcement.
“While I recognize that the Commonwealth is facing a serious budget challenge that will require painful choices this year and next, his (Kaine’s) decision will further hurt a community already hard hit by the loss of thousands of jobs and with an unemployment rate approaching 9 percent,” Nutter said.
Virginia Correctional Department spokesman Larry Traylor said the goal is to have all of the governor’s reduction plans implemented by Jan. 25.
He said the state also plans to try to help qualify all displaced state employees for other positions that have not been filled.
The Pulaski correctional facility, constructed on 52 acres, is a Level 2 prison, meaning it is equipped to accommodate Level 1 and Level 2 prisoners who haven’t had any disruptive behaviors in at least 24 months and have not attempted to escape.
Level 1 excludes inmates serving time for first- or second- degree murder, sex offenses, kidnapping and abduction.
Level 2 inmates are those serving single life sentences who have reached their parole eligibility date.
Kaine’s reduction plan calls for 567 layoffs of state employees.

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Center closing criticized

Sixth District Delegate Anne B. Crockett-Stark (R-Wytheville) is asking Gov. Timothy Kaine to reconsider his decision to close Pulaski Correctional Center, citing area unemployment figures and jail overcrowding as two main concerns.
In the letter, Crockett-Stark says the announcement of the closing left her with “mixed feelings” because while she understands the need to cut state spending, “I have great concern about the closing of the Pulaski prison.”
The closing of the facility, off Morgan’s Cut Road (Old Route 11), was announced last week as part of Kaine’s October 2008 reduction plan for the 2009 fiscal year budget. The plan estimates the state will be able to save just over $1.6 million by closing the center.
Although Kaine’s plan specifies 62 employees will lose their jobs, Crockett-Stark indicates the closing will affect 128 employees.
She goes on to point out that the state has spent over $100,000 on improvements at the prison in order to make it a “clean and efficiently-run facility.” The improvements she cites include: updates to the bathrooms by installing low-flow showers, toilets and sinks; a new parking lot; new paint; new heating and air conditioning units; and new solar panels.
“As you are aware, Pulaski is also a field unit. It has not paid any overtime since 1989, and it houses its prisoners at the annual cost of approximately $17,000, which is significantly lower than the statewide average of $31,000,” she states.
Crockett-Stark also notes that the prison offers programs such as Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous, religious services and counseling to prepare inmates for transition back into society upon release from confinement.
“I know that you support these kinds of services in order that prisoners will be successful when they return to society,” Crockett-Stark’s letter to the governor states.
She says she realizes Kaine’s decisions are difficult and indicates she believes “you (Kaine) are a governor who does care greatly about our state’s operations.”
Nonetheless, she says, closing the Pulaski and Tazewell field units will increase lost job opportunity in an area already hit by 1,000 permanent layoffs at Volvo.

She said Pulaski will suffer even more since she believes Tazewell prison employees should be given “the first opportunity” to be hired at Pocahontas.
Pocahontas and Bland are expected to “take care of some of the slack,” according to what Crockett-Stark says the state’s Public Safety secretary told her.
Crockett-Stark also asks what the state intends to do with the 422 inmates currently housed at the Pulaski facility “with most of our prisons already being overcrowded.”
Crockett-Stark questions whether new mobile units or infrastructure will be required at existing prisons to absorb the local inmates.
“I also have concern that regional jails, which are also overcrowded, will be housing prisoners longer waiting on the state to make the transfer to state prisons,” she adds.
Crockett-Stark asks whether legislators will be asked to subsequently fund new buildings at regional jails and be putting heavy burdens on the jails.
The Pulaski facility, constructed in 1955, is one of six correctional facilities statewide that the governor proposes to close to help make up for an estimated $2.5 billion shortfall in revenue through 2010.

Last week, Seventh District Rep. Dave Nutter (R-Christiansburg) expressed “complete surprise” at the planned closing of the Pulaski facility, noting that neither he nor county officials had any warning of the announcement.
“While I recognize that the Commonwealth is facing a serious budget challenge that will require painful choices this year and next, his (Kaine’s) decision will further hurt a community already hard hit by the loss of thousands of jobs and with an unemployment rate approaching 9 percent,” Nutter said.
Virginia Correctional Department spokesman Larry Traylor said the goal is to have all of the governor’s reduction plans implemented by Jan. 25.
He said the state also plans to try to help qualify all displaced state employees for other positions that have not been filled.
The Pulaski correctional facility, constructed on 52 acres, is a Level 2 prison, meaning it is equipped to accommodate Level 1 and Level 2 prisoners who haven’t had any disruptive behaviors in at least 24 months and have not attempted to escape.
Level 1 excludes inmates serving time for first- or second- degree murder, sex offenses, kidnapping and abduction.
Level 2 inmates are those serving single life sentences who have reached their parole eligibility date.
Kaine’s reduction plan calls for 567 layoffs of state employees.

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