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Lakeview prison back on the chopping block in Gov. Brown's proposed budget

Warner Creek Correctional Facility and two other state prisons would be shut down in an effort to save funds under Governor Kate Brown's proposal.

Posted: Dec 2, 2020 4:13 PM
Updated: Dec 2, 2020 4:30 PM

LAKEVIEW, Ore. — A minimum-security state prison in Lake County again faces the prospect of closure following the release of Governor Kate Brown's budget proposal on Tuesday.

Warner Creek Correctional Facility in Lakeview was one of two prisons put on the chopping block in July as lawmakers looked to offset revenue losses caused by the coronavirus lockdown. But when the dust settled after a second 2020 Special Session, both Warner Creek and Shutter Creek Correctional Institution in North Bend survived the cuts.

Brown's budget proposal for the 2021-23 biennium identifies Warner Creek, Shutter Creek, and the Mill Creek Correctional Facility in Salem for closure. The cuts would save the state an estimated $42.7 million from the general fund within the next two years, on top of maintenance and repair costs.

"This is a direct a result of the declining prison population, increased commutations and success of the Short-Term Transitional Leave program," Brown's budget document notes.

The July push to close Warner Creek drew fierce resistance from the Lake County community, which considers the prison to be an economic boon. This time, the plan to close three prisons has drawn attention from Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod, who criticized the proposal in a Wednesday statement.

“I am deeply concerned for Oregonians’ public safety with Governor Brown’s decision to close three state prisons yesterday. There is a potential for an increase in crime, especially when there are no details on who is being released or relocated," Sen. Girod said. “Before the Legislature does anything, Governor Brown must share the plan of where inmates will go, who will be released and how law enforcement, vendor and support staff jobs will be protected."

Brown began commuting the sentences for some inmates in June due to COVID-19, taking recommendations from Department of Corrections leadership. Those inmates were considered medically vulnerable, within just a few months of their scheduled release date, or both.

Several of Oregon's state prisons have been the site of large and deadly COVID-19 outbreaks among both prisoners and DOC staff. Unless a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available by the time these three prisons are shuttered, it is unclear how state officials would safely transfer inmates to other facilities, many of them with ongoing outbreaks.

For Lakeview, arguments against the closures stem primarily from economic anxiety after nearly a year of coronavirus upsets.

“Two of the prisons are in rural Oregon communities already under significant stress due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, and the years of neglect as the Portland area has been given priority," Girod continued.

According to Girod's office, Mill Creek in Salem would be the first prison to close, set for July of 2021. Shutter Creek in Bend would follow, with Warner Creek in Lakeview the last to shut its doors.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 140063

Reported Deaths: 1924
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah29512473
Washington19476184
Marion16951255
Clackamas12251142
Lane8900113
Jackson726798
Umatilla705874
Deschutes530342
Yamhill335652
Linn325050
Malheur323355
Polk262241
Klamath258149
Josephine188436
Benton185514
Douglas181447
Jefferson174625
Union116117
Wasco112923
Columbia109018
Lincoln104517
Coos102916
Hood River99923
Morrow97311
Clatsop7225
Crook67615
Baker5875
Tillamook3742
Curry3275
Lake2635
Grant2171
Harney1916
Wallowa1003
Gilliam531
Sherman480
Wheeler201
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 3250649

Reported Deaths: 38817
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles109171215897
San Bernardino2693141746
Riverside2684903003
Orange2403142839
San Diego2314812465
Santa Clara997021314
Kern91119591
Fresno866731084
Sacramento850621194
Alameda72024929
Ventura67526546
San Joaquin60545844
Contra Costa55593492
Stanislaus49690808
Tulare43574542
Monterey38434261
San Mateo34738356
San Francisco30874296
Santa Barbara27321267
Solano27317121
Imperial25812514
Merced25743332
Sonoma25536254
Kings20223161
Placer18129192
San Luis Obispo17151161
Madera14130175
Santa Cruz13088136
Marin12067166
Yolo11361147
Shasta10212138
Butte9943136
El Dorado824566
Napa814552
Sutter812984
Lassen530916
San Benito525152
Yuba522730
Tehama456446
Tuolumne351241
Nevada341073
Mendocino332236
Amador311333
Lake274832
Humboldt267227
Glenn203422
Colusa19079
Calaveras172323
Siskiyou150413
Mono11574
Inyo105329
Del Norte8783
Plumas6185
Modoc3974
Mariposa3585
Trinity3065
Sierra950
Alpine740
Unassigned00
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