Uncertainty over the future of the county’s two work camps – one in place for two decades in Apalachicola and another soon-to-be completed one in Carrabelle – has led county officials to seek answers from the Florida Department of Corrections.


Uncertainty over the future of the county’s two work camps – one in place for two decades in Apalachicola and another soon-to-be completed one in Carrabelle – has led county officials to seek answers from the Florida Department of Corrections.



At the tail end of the Aug. 14 county commission meeting, Commissioner Noah Lockley raised the question of rumors circulating that the DOC planned to close the Bay City Work Camp outside Apalachicola and transfer the prisoners to a new work camp about to be completed adjacent to the Franklin Correctional Institution outside Carrabelle



Commissioner Smokey Parrish expressed concern that such a move would increase the travel costs of bringing inmate crews to Eastpoint and Apalachicola. “I don’t understand it, it’s a nice, pretty new facility,” said Parrish. “This could cost us jobs and impact residents and the county.”



Apalachicola city officials have long been concerned about the effect such a closure would have on the city, not only with water and sewer revenue but with a drying up of money injected into the local economy.



By a unanimous vote, county commissioners directed Director of Administrative Services Alan Pierce to draft a letter seeking answers from Russell Hosford, warden of FCI, which oversees the Bay City camp, which as of Aug. 2012 had a population of 280 inmates.



“The Board (of county commissioners) is aware the Department of Corrections has closed some facilities in the past year, and the Board is concerned that Bay City may be involved in a future round of closings,” wrote Chairman Pinki Jackel, in the Aug. 22 letter. “”Any information regarding the future of the work camp would be appreciated. Bay City has been providing inmate labor to the community for approximately 20 years and it has become a valuable asset to the county.”



Asked by The Times about the possibility of closure, Ann V. Howard. communications director for the DOC, responded that the Bay City Work Camp “is fully funded.” She said 70 staff worked there, including 64 security personnel, three in food service, two in classification and one in medical.



Howard said the newly constructed work camp at FCI is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 31, 2012. “The work camp is not funded at this time,” she wrote.



Howard said Bay City provides about 111,000 hours annually from inmate work squads working in the community, for a total cost savings of $1.96 million annually to the taxpayers of Franklin County.



“At this time there are no plans to impact the citizens of Franklin County,” she wrote.