COPY-Pre-release center closing in Columbia

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A state-operated detention center in Columbia is closing.

The State newspaper reported ( ) the Watkins Pre-Release Center will close March 17.

The Watkins facility opened in 1983 and was the last stop for some inmates about to be released from prison.

Inmates now at the center will be transferred to the Manning Detention Center in Columbia.

Corrections Department director Bill Byars says the Watkins property will be used for office and administrative needs. He says there will be no layoffs in the closure and transfer of inmates.

Byars says the closing is part of a re-evaluation of each of the state's 28 prisons. The Corrections Department is dealing with reduced funds and a possible merger with the Probation, Parole and Pardon Services Department.

Information from: The State,

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