This sign points the way to the neighboring Western Missouri Correctional Center and Crossroads Correctional Center, both in Cameron, Missouri. The state went on a prison-building spree in the 1990s but is now looking at a community-based approach to preventing repeat offenses.

During his State of the State Address on Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Mike Parson announced a maximum security prison — Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron — would be closing its doors as it combines with the nearby Western Missouri Correctional Center, a medium security prison.

Parson attributed this closure to wanting to focus on the re-integration of offenders into society and better pay for officers.

“As governor, I am not interested in building more prisons,” Parson said before the state legislature on Wednesday. “This decision is largely driven by our decision to find efficiency where we can in state government. And this can be done while ensuring safety, improving security and delivering a much-needed pay raise — all being done with no layoffs.”

According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, staffing shortages were some of the major issues that Crossroads was facing before the consolidation with WMCC, even attributing unrest in the prison to the shortage. On May 12, 2018, offenders at Crossroads rioted for several hours, leading to a heavy amount of damage to the facility and a lockdown that lasted for several months.

“At some facilities, shortages have led to long overtime hours for staff and a reduction in program time, recreation time and other rehabilitative activities for offenders,” the department said. “In some cases, these circumstances have sparked unrest among a few offenders, which can affect the safety of everyone in our facilities.”

According to the city of Cameron’s website, Crossroads has the capacity for 1,500 male offenders, all of which will either be joining WMCC — which currently has the ability to hold 1,975 inmates — or be transferred to another prison.

“Housing decisions are based on several factors, such as space availability, safety issues, proximity to family and the treatment and/or program needs of the offender,” the department said.

The department said no offenders will be released to make this consolidation between Crossroads and WMCC work, and there will be no overcrowding.

It is unsure at this time when the process will begin to consolidate the two Cameron prisons.

Jessika Eidson can be reached

at jessika.eidson@newspressnow.com.

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