State to close prison housing 430 inmates in Hocking County

File photo (WSYX/WTTE)

NELSONVILLE, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- A southeastern Ohio prison is scheduled to close within the next 3 months and transfer its hundreds of inmates elsewhere.

The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association said the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction informed them the Hocking Correctional Facility in Nelsonville will shut down and transfer its 430 inmates by the end of March 2018.

The facility, which employees 110 people, is one of two prisons as part of the Southeastern Correctional Complex. The other is in Lancaster.

The state said it's closing the facility, because comparable-sized prisons "operate more efficiently at one-third the cost." A news release by the Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction stated the Hocking facility is the single-most expensive facility to operate in the entire state at $11.5 million annually. Officials said similar prisons in Richland, Belmont, and Trumbull counties cost approximately $3 million annually.

The state also claims a declining prison population in Ohio, citing 900 fewer inmates than a year ago. The current number is 49,517.

OCSEA said the state "made a commitment that everyone who wants a job within the agency will have one."

The union claims rumors about a potential closure began a year ago.

As for future possibilities for the facility, officials said it could be repurposed for an educational, health care, drug treatment or governmental service mission.

ABC 6/FOX 28 is working to gather more details on this developing story.

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