South Georgia detention center shutting down - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia detention center shutting down

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By Cade Fowler - bio | email

MOULTRIE, GA (WALB) – It came as a surprise last week when the state ordered the closure of Southwest Probation Detention Center in Moultrie.

 For years the minimum security facility provided employment in Colquitt County, but it also saved millions of dollars locally.

"It's saved us thousands - hundreds of thousands of dollars - over the last 20 or 30 years that the detention center has been in existence," said Sunbelt Ag Expo director Chip Blaylock.

He says the detention center, which stands just yards away from Spence Field, has been an asset to South Georgia's largest annual event and the community at large.

"They've done a great job helping us set up and keeping the place clean during the week and after the show. They've been an asset to Moultrie and Colquitt County and all the surrounding counties. They've provided services on public works and grounds throughout the region," says Blaylock.

Effective May 31st, all 222 male prisoners, most of them probation violators, will transfer to other prisons.

The center's 52 employees will lose their jobs. Though the state says it's offered them positions at other facilities.

City officials say they annually pay Southwest Detention around $80,000 for work detail services. Surrounding communities must now find other ways to make up for the work the prisoners provided, such as cemetery upkeep and roadside cleanup. And the Ag Expo, which is provided inmate work detail through the city of Moultrie, must do the same.

"The job will still get done. It'll just be done in a different manner and by a different group of workers," says Blaylock.

Georgia Department of Corrections says the closure will result in an annual savings of $2.1 million.

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