Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, issued this statement today after learning from Department of Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail that McNeil Island prison will be closed and offenders transferred to other facilities by April 1, 2011.
“While this closure will affect our local economy, which is worrisome, there actually could be some benefit to our communities because fewer offenders are likely to be released into Pierce County.
“Under the prison reform legislation approved in 2007, my ‘fair share’ provision requires offenders to be released back into their county of origin. An exception is allowed if an offender’s family lives in another county and will be supportive of the offender’s transition into the community.
“Families tend to move to communities close to the prison where a relative is incarcerated. When a prison is closed and offenders are moved, families also will move. This means fewer released felons in Pierce County.
“I worked hard on reducing the likelihood of recidivism as part of the prison reform effort, but there are always those who will re-offend. Closing McNeil Island prison should mean fewer problems for our local law enforcement agencies and our citizens.
“On the downside, the economic impact of the McNeil Island prison closure will mean reduced income for local businesses that provide services and supplies related to prison operations, employees and visitors. This will result in another blow to our local economy still deep in the pain of the recession.
“Closure of McNeil Island prison is one of the ramifications of the state’s current and ongoing fiscal problems which grew with the revenue forecast yesterday.”
Carrell is the ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a member of the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
He was re-elected to the position of Republican deputy leader today during the Senate Republican Caucus organizational meeting.