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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announces closure of Florence state prison

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced plans Monday to close the Florence state prison, touting taxpayers savings of around a quarter of a billion dollars.

The Governor’s office said in a press release the closure will save $274 million over three years by removing the need for maintenance and repairs at the facility.

The state will relocate Florence inmates to the custody of third-party operators and county corrections facilities, according to the release.

There are no plans to cut any jobs as a result of the closure.

Florence staff will be transferred about 3 miles away to the Eyman state prison complex, which is also located in the Pinal County city of Florence. That will eliminate job vacancies at Eyman and enhance safety for correctional officers there, according to the release.

Ducey alluded to the closure of a prison during his 2020 State of the State address Monday but did not specify which one.

The Republican also said the Arizona Department of Corrections will be rebranded as the Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry to reflect the agency’s mission under new Director David Shinn.

Shinn was hired in October to replace Charles Ryan, who retired the previous month while under fire for his handling of broken cell locks at the Lewis prison in Buckeye and other departmental issues.

“We’ve provided more opportunities and we’ve decreased the amount of people returning to prison and helped many find meaningful work,” Ducey said during his annual speech.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously said the savings would be $247 million. The governor’s office said that figure was a typo on its press release.

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