TALLAHASSEE — Legislative leaders decided in weekend budget talks to close Hillsborough Correctional Institution in Riverview, the state's only faith- and character-based prison for women.
A show of force by HCI supporters last year kept the prison open and those advocates, including retired women from Sun City Center, began mobilizing again Sunday.
But the debt-ridden Department of Corrections developed criteria that resulted in the prison being rated the least efficient in the state.
"I'm disappointed," said Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. "I think the volunteers and the former inmates there showed us the success of that facility."
Hillsborough's recidivism rate is much lower than most others.
Fasano speculated that Hillsborough's closing may have been "a little bit of payback" against senators from Tampa Bay, all but one of whom helped kill a proposed expansion of prison privatization.
Closing Hillsborough will save about $10 million, and the prison's 275 inmates will be transferred to a women's lockup in Lowell. The approximate 130 full-time officers will be offered jobs at other prisons, and HCI guards have already been assigned new jobs elsewhere.