Louisiana Secretary of Corrections James LeBlanc said Monday that proposed spending cuts required by the House-approved budget for fiscal 2013 could force the closure of three prisons and the cancellation of a monitoring program for sex offenders.

LeBlanc told the Senate Finance Committee that the Department of Public Safety and Corrections is looking at a $27.5 million reduction in its budget next year.

“In my opinion, this is a step backward for our prison system,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the right move.”

The Senate is considering a $25.5 billion budget for fiscal 2013.

The spending plan was adopted last week by the House, which removed $267.7 million of one-time money from the general fund budget and told Gov. Bobby Jindal to cut spending.

Closing the prisons would require the transfer of 940 inmates to other state facilities and 2,700 to local jails, LeBlanc said.

The closures would cut expenses by $25 million a year and cost the jobs of almost 900 correctional employees, he said.

The department would save another $1.7 million by laying off 57 parole and probation officers.

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