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  • mcprison mcprison Dec 15, 2000 1:10 PM Flag

    WHC set to sell in NM?

    New Mexico: State may buy Wackenhut facilities.
    Friday, December 15, 2000

    State May
    Purchase Prisons

    By S.U. Mahesh
    Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE � The Legislative Finance
    Committee is
    appraising the two private prisons in
    Hobbs and Santa
    Rosa with a possibility of turning
    them into state agencies.
    An official for
    Florida-based Wackenhut Corrections,
    which operates the
    prisons, said the company is willing to
    negotiate if
    New Mexico lawmakers want to purchase the

    facilities in Lea and Guadalupe counties.
    The committee
    on Thursday directed General Services
    Steven Beffort to conduct the appraisals and

    determine a fair market value on each prison.
    directive comes a day after Corrections Secretary
    Perry told lawmakers that his department is

    negotiating a new contract with Wackenhut that would

    allow the state to either buy or lease the two private

    The Legislative Finance Committee
    hasn't made a
    decision on whether to purchase the
    prisons, but its
    chairman suggested the time is
    "Since we have a little bit of more money,
    it would be a
    good thing to consider," Sen. Ben
    Altamirano, D-Silver
    City, said referring to a $367
    million surplus expected this
    fiscal year.

    Altamirano, who also chairs the Senate Finance

    Committee, said he didn't know if his colleagues support

    buying the prisons.
    But he added, "I
    personally support it if the price is

    Retiring Sen. Billy McKibben, R-Hobbs, said the

    Legislature should use the surplus to buy both prisons as a

    one-time capital investment.
    "I think it
    would be a prudent thing to buy the darn
    McKibben said.
    During the 1998 legislative session, a
    proposal for the
    state to buy both prisons for $68
    million, while they were
    still under construction,
    passed the Senate but died in a
    House committee.

    The 1,200-bed Hobbs prison opened in May 1998.
    Santa Rosa facility with 600 beds began
    accepting inmates
    in January 1999.
    Calabrese, president of Wackenhut, said he
    couldn't put
    a fair market value on the prisons because

    several improvements have been made to both since they

    were opened.
    "We have to get an appraisal of
    our own," Calabrese said
    Thursday in a phone
    interview from Palm Beach Garden,
    and its partners are willing to negotiate any

    proposals to sell the prisons, he said.
    The proposed
    corrections department contract with
    Wackenhut also
    calls for a per diem increase from $49.88
    a day to
    $53 a day per inmate. That would cost New
    taxpayers an additional $1.2 million a year to
    state inmates in private prisons.

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