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The Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) last month agreed to a request by Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter to vacate the Great Falls Regional Prison (GFRP) by June 30, 2021. This means any state-side inmates currently housed at GFRP will be moved from the facility. 

Slaughter made the request following President Biden’s recent order for the U.S. Department of Justice to phase out it contracts with private prison companies, such as CoreCivic which owns and operates Crossroads Correctional Facility in Shelby.

“Cascade County would be pleased to help the U.S. Marshal Service by accepting a portion of their federal detainees who were being held in Shelby, at our facility,” Slaughter said. “Given that change, it seemed like a good time to approach the DOC about vacating our facility to allow for additional space to alleviate the overcrowding that has impacted public safety in the county. This allows us to avoid going to county taxpayers to ask for a levy to expand the jail, and ensures we can keep people who pose a danger to our community locked up. It’s really a win-win and I appreciate the DOC working with us to make this happen.”

In order for the DOC to vacate the 152-bed facility the department requires additional beds at another facility. Currently the DOC is in negotiations with CoreCivic to increase its number of beds by 152.

“We are proud to be a longstanding government partner with the Montana Department of Corrections (MDOC) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS),” said Ryan Gustin, manager of Public Affairs for CoreCivic. 

“We feel that providing our partners flexibility to manage their populations is one of the most important ways we provide value. We are also proud of the robust reentry programming and comprehensive services provided at our Crossroads Correctional Center and stand ready to support our partners to meet their evolving needs,” he added.

Montana lawmakers tentatively approved the DOC’s request to vacate the stateside inmates from the Great Falls facility by amending HB 693 to grant consent for the DOC to discontinue its use of the regional prison. This legislation will need to be approved by both chambers.

“Moving out of GFRP to Crossroads is really a win for inmates as well as state and county taxpayers,” DOC Director Brian Gootkin said. “CCC in Shelby has more extensive services related to recreation space, general education and vocational education classes, behavioral health services, and religious services, including an outdoor sweat facility for American Indian inmates. This would allow the DOC greater opportunity to give the inmates the skills they need to be successful when they return to our communities.”

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