Sanders Says Prison Expansion On Hold by Christopher Henderson, 1/26/06
City Councilman James Sanders, Jr. (D-Laurleton) announced this week that the expansion plans for a private prison in Springfield Gardens have been halted, but a spokesman for the company that owns the prison said the expansion will go ahead as scheduled. Sanders said an official announcement will come next week after he and other elected officials meet with The U.S. Marshals Sevice, which holds a contract with the prison at 182-22 150th Ave. "We were called upon to deal with life and death issues," Sanders said. "By the grace of God, we have prevailed this time." The Marshals house 200 federal prisoners at Queens Private Correctional Facility. Until last July, the facility, which is owned by GEO Group, Inc.,held immigration detainees caught at nearby Kennedy Airport. In December, GEO Group, an international prison management company,bought the warehouse next to the prison and announced plans to increase its capacity by 170 inmates. GEO spokesman Marty McLaughlin said the company still intends to go ahead with those expansion plans. Local officials and community groups have fought against the prison over the past month after the expansion and the change to federal prisoners became well-known. Sanders led a march on the prison on Martin Luther King's birthday last week. At an earlier town hall meeting, residents raised concerns about the prison's proximity to their homes and PS 52 on 146th Terrace. The U.S. Marshals Service did not return calls for comment on this story.