Guards and inmates also complained Wackenhut did not feed the inmates adequate rations and hid deficiencies from state officials. The allegations come after the state prison board in October issued its own complaints about Wackenhut's handling of the Newport prisons. Officials gave Wackenhut until February 2001 to correct deficiencies at the two prisons. The board will then decide whether to begin negotiations with Wackenhut for a new two-year contract. The company told the board in October that it must have more money from the state to continue operating the prisons. Former Correction Department assistant director Randall B. Morgan said he wasn't surprised to hear of problems at the privately operated prisons. "This was a big I-told-you-so for me," Morgan said. Morgan was on the committee that evaluated proposals from private prison contractors in the mid-1990s. He opposed using a contractor to run the two prisons because he didn't believe a private company could operate prisons efficiently for less money than the state. Morgan suspects Wackenhut gave a "low-ball" bid to secure the contract and planned from the beginning to ask for more money later. Wackenhut officials in recent interviews insisted the company's initial estimates were accurate but that a labor shortage and higher-than-expected medical costs at the women's prison forced them several times to ask for more money from the state. If the two sides do not reach agreement on a new contract, the state must take over operation of the Newport units or find a new contractor. Morgan, who is now director of the Pulaski County regional jail, said that either way the state will have to pay more to operate the prisons. "The taxpayer's burden is going to go up no matter what happens," he said. Tyler said it was too soon to say whether the FBI investigation would affect renewal of the state's contract with Wackenhut. "If you found widespread abuse and illegal use of force, of course it would have a bearing," she said. Claims by inmates of guard brutality are "not all that rare," she said. "Just because you have an investigation doesn't mean it is true." She said she didn't know if FBI agents were interviewing inmates and guards at Newport. "They were there to talk to someone, but as to who they were talking to, I'm not privy to that information," she said. Tyler said the investigation would continue "until the allegations are resolved, however long it takes."