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Report: Keep Gwinnett Co. prison open

LAWRENCEVILLE — A report released Friday recommended that the Gwinnett County Correctional Complex remain open, despite the county’s commissioners voting to close it two years ago.

The Board of Commissioners moved to close the county prison at 750 Hi-Hope Road in Lawrenceville before agreeing five months later to keep it open pending a study of its operations.

That study determined that it would be beneficial to continue housing state prisoners because “it is cost-effective due to per-diem revenue paid by the state, the cap on medical liability and the value of inmate labor.

“Simply put, closing the facility would not lower our costs,” Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “Rather, it would shift many of those expenses to other operational areas.”

Inmate labor should also be expanded, the committee recommended, in order to reduce operating costs and make the prison’s work release program self-supporting as originally intended. Commissioners voted Tuesday to raise fees paid by work alternative participants — who perform community service work in lieu of serving time — in order to keep the program viable.

County Administrator Glenn Stephens appointed the 10-member committee, made up of employees from eight different county departments.

“The project team members and other invested a great deal of time in the process,” prison warden David Peek said, “and I am confident this comprehensive report will be a valuable tool for business planning.”