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Coos County commissioners hope to save Shutter Creek

Coos County Commissioner Melissa Cribbins said the closure is going to leave a huge dent in the community.

Posted: Jan 19, 2021 6:10 PM

NORTH BEND, Ore. – Members of the Coos County Board of Commissioners are still trying to figure out their next steps as the state prepares to shut down Shutter Creek Correctional Institution for good.

Gov. Kate Brown said they plan to shut down three facilities in 2022, which will save the state more than $44 million.

The governor said she believes the money could be better invested elsewhere, such as early childhood education. On Friday, Brown said she took unilateral action and directed the Department of Corrections to close the three facilities.

However, Coos County Commissioner Melissa Cribbins said the closure is going to leave a huge dent in the community.

“It’s easy to look at something on paper and say, 'This makes perfect sense, I’ll close this down,'” she said. “But what you’re not looking at is the lives you impact.”

She said they will need to relocate their law enforcement radio tower on the facility’s property, which could cost the county thousands of dollars.

It will also have an impact on the City of Lakeside, as the facility is their biggest wastewater treatment user, Cribbins said. 

However, she said their biggest concern is how many jobs will be lost once Shutter Creek closes. Right now, there are more than 100 people employed there.

“Most of those people are married,” she said. “Their spouses have jobs in this community.”

Cribbins said it will also affect people outside of the facility too.

“There are many small businesses that rely on Shutter Creek for the business they provide,” she said. “Like dry cleaning or janitorial services.”

One former inmate told KEZI 9 News that it was about time for the prison to shut down. He said he doesn’t believe they are providing enough resources to the inmates who are there now.

“It’s just wasting the people’s time that are in the prison,” said Matt Campbell. “They’re not benefiting. The other prisons have a lot of programs they can benefit from.”

However, Cribbins said they are doing everything they can to keep the prison from closing. She said the commissioners are working with lawmakers to secure funding for Shutter Creek.

The three facilities Brown plans to close in 2022 includes Shutter Creek, Mill Creek Correctional Facility in Salem and Warner Creek Correctional Facility in Lakeview.

Brown said Shutter Creek will close by January.

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