12/16/05 — Federal Prison Camp will be empty sometime this April

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Federal Prison Camp will be empty sometime this April

By Turner Walston
Published in News on December 16, 2005 1:52 PM

The Federal Prison Camp at Seymour Johnson will be empty by the first week in April, said Rodney Tabron, prison spokesman.

Inmates will be transferred to other facilities, as will most of the staff, who have found new positions within the prison system, Tabron said.

Some staff members will transfer to the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, he said, while others will move to facilities in South Carolina or elsewhere.

"They will be assignments that staff showed interest in or chose," he said."Nobody's been placed somewhere they didn't choose to go."

Meanwhile, the inmate population at FPC Seymour Johnson is dwindling. As of Monday, there were 256 inmates at the camp, down from 350 three weeks ago.

Tabron said the number of inmates, who are responsible for performing maintenance and landscaping duties at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, will decrease gradually until the camp closes its doors.

"Because there will still be tasks that have to be done that would use their labor here, there will be a small cadre of inmates remaining here until we leave," he said.

Tabron said the staff and inmates are handling the closure process well. "Obviously we're not immune to any other thing that would happen out in the work world," he said. "After a period of adjustment, people always look at the bright side of things and see things as an opportunity, and I think we've pretty much done that."

When the prison closes, the jobs that had been performed by inmates will have to be done by others.

"What we're doing right now is getting private contracts to come in and do the work," said Stu Cox, deputy commander of the 4th Mission Support Group. Cox said the contracts will primarily involve custodial work and grounds maintenance. The custodial contract is just beginning, he said, while the grounds maintenance contract is being finalized.

Cox said the addition of the private contracts could be a positive for the community.

"The level of maintenance, how pristine we keep our facilities, that should be unchanged," he said. "It will create some jobs in the local community."

Cox added that he is not sure yet how many.

"Obviously, a contractor's going to do the job that's required as effectively as he can do it with as few people," he said.

Cox said he expected the labor would be completely turned over to private contracts early next year.

As for the facility itself, he said a decision had not been made yet. The Bureau of Prisons has recently completed an evironmental study.

"The Bureau of Prisons has not indicated that they have a long-term need for the facility," Cox said.

Similar processes are taking place at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., where prison camps are also closing.

Cox reiterated that the decision to close the camp was not made by the U.S. Air Force.

"It's a Bureau of Prisons budget decision, to draw out the number of facilities, and the Department of Defense doesn't have a say in that," he said.