HEADLINE: Wackenhut bails out, board votes to return prison to DOC
BYLINE: By BRIAN SKOLOFF, Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: WRIGHTSVILLE, Ark.
The private company operating two state prisons for the Arkansas Department of Correction said Thursday it wouldn't do so anymore, citing the high cost of medical care and higher wage demands.
The state Board of Correction and Community Punishment already was scheduled to discuss Wackenhut Correction Corp.'s performance, but Wackenhut's decision not to renew its contract eliminated that need. Instead, the board placed the two Newport-area prisons under the Correction Department.
The Grimes Unit men's prison and the McPherson Unit women's prison will return to state control after Wackenhut's contract expires June 30.
As part of a regular meeting, the board was to discuss sanitation problems and allegations of inmate idleness at the two facilities and decide whether to renew its contract with the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based company.
Wackenhut President Wayne Calabrese said it was difficult to run the prison on the state's terms.
"It is a very unusual situation. We have never had a situation where we've said we did not want to renew our contract," Calabrese said.
Calabrese said his company has contracts to run 57 prisons around the world. He cited growing medical care costs for female prisoners and increased staff wages as reasons for not renewing the Arkansas contracts.