LANSING (AP) – More than 1,000 inmates at Mound Correctional Facility in Detroit will be moved in the coming months after state corrections officials announced Wednesday they’re closing the medium-security prison after all.

Mound, with more than 1,000 inmates, had been on the chopping block during discussions on how to cut the budget earlier this year, but the Department of Corrections then decided to keep it open.

That decision has been reversed because the overall prison population has fallen, corrections officials said in a release Wednesday. They chose Mound for closure because it’s one of the most expensive to operate, costing $31,525 annually to house each inmate and about $32.6 million overall.

Opponents have said closing Mound will present a hardship for inmates’ families because they will have to travel further to visit their loved ones who will have to be sent to prisons in other cities. The target date for closing Mound is Jan. 7. Once Mound closes, Detroit will have only one prison within its borders, Ryan Correctional Facility.

The department also will accept bids to explore letting private companies run Woodland Center Correctional Facility in Whitmore Lake and the prison health care and mental health care systems. The state would continue to run those operations if the cost savings through privatization isn’t great enough. Woodland houses prisoners with serious mental health issues and employs 346 people.

“These decisions are part of our strategy to improve operations, increase efficiency and regain fiscal control,” Corrections director Daniel Heyns said in a release. “These changes will help us focus on protecting Michigan’s citizens while achieving the greatest value for their tax dollars.”

Mound prison employs 324 people, and Heyns said the department will try to minimize the effect of the closing on them. The department said five other state corrections facilities are within driving distance of Mound, which should “lessen the negative impact to employees” if they get transferred to those sites.

The state already has closed seven prisons and seven camps in recent years, mostly while Gov. Jennifer Granholm was in office. The Florence Crane Correctional Facility in Coldwater closed in May after Gov. Rick Snyder took office.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


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