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Judge won't block closure of Hillsborough prison

Unless the Legislature moves to save it, Hillsborough Correctional Institution could close as soon as March 30.

Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis refused to issue a temporary injunction blocking the Riverview prison's closure, saying the inmate plaintiffs in a pending lawsuit had not proven the Deparment of Correction's plan to close the facility violated state law.

Under the proposal, Hillsborough Correctional inmates will be transferred to dormitories currently under construction at Lowell Correctional Institution in Marion County complex. The successful faith- and character-based program will also transfer with them.

Lewis ruled on the case Friday afternoon after listening to roughly three hours of testimony over two days.

Though he refused to halt Hillsborough Correctional's closing, the lasuit itself is still pending. Plaintiff's attorney Dean LeBoeuf said supporters will continue to monitor the transition plan to ensure that the state keeps its promise to provide similar programming and better living conditions for former Hillsborough Correctional inmates.