Georgia Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens said today that the Department of Corrections has shed 1,550 jobs in two years through attrition as it closes facilities.
Owens, appearing before a joint meeting of the House and Senate budget committees, ran through a list of ways his agency is saving money in the 57 ,000-inmate system.
Over the course of a year, Owens said the reduction in jobs will save the system $65 million.
However, some of the cutbacks are raising questions from lawmakers, who worry that closing facilities – three prisons are expected to be shuttered in the next year or so – will hurt small-town Georgia.
“Prisons are economic development in rural areas, ” said Senate President Pro-Tem Tommie Williams (R-Lyons). Williams was one of several lawmakers who pleaded with Owens to take the economic impact of rural Georgia into account when he considers closing prisons and other, smaller facilties.
Afterward, Owens told reporters, “This is the 21st century. It is the taxpayers’ money. It ought to be a business decision.”