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Corrections Corporation of America Message Board

  • slowdiver67 slowdiver67 Mar 29, 2004 11:20 AM Flag

    CT looking toward privatization of 2500

    Connecticut Department of Corrections

    February 28, 2004
    A private prison company from Tennessee has told the Department of Correction it plans to bid on housing up to 2,500 prisoners in its facilities. Connecticut must find a place to put 500 prisoners by October, after Virginia officials canceled a contract to house the state's inmates this week. Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America has submitted a letter of intent to Connecticut, said company spokesman Steve Owen. He would not reveal any proposed details. "We certainly are interested and will be submitting a proposal," Owen said. The state Department of Correction confirmed it received letters of intent but would not say which providers had expressed interest. Private providers and states have until May 3 to submit proposals. Corrections Corporation of America is the nation's largest private prison operator, holding 55,000 inmates in 64 facilities in 20 states. Company officials said last year their Youngstown, Ohio, facility would be ideal for Connecticut inmates, but Owen said Friday they could be placed in any of the company's 6,800 available beds. The company also has hired a former a former chief of staff to Gov. John G. Rowland, David O'Leary, to lobby for the company in Connecticut. Rowland is currently enmeshed in a federal investigation into possible bid-rigging in the administration, and a House committee is considering whether to recommend impeachment. "We are not concerned," Owen said. "He is being retained because of his ability to be kept up to speed with the decision making, like all of our lobbyists around the states. That is why we retain the individual." Connecticut had been looking for a private or other state provider since the legislature last year authorized out-of-state placements for 2,500 prisoners. Virginia has said it will not accept Connecticut prisoners past Oct. 22, but it will be flexible in allowing Connecticut to get its inmates out of the state. Marc Ryan, Rowland's budget chief, said the state would not discuss anything with providers until after the closing date for the proposals. He also said the state was not leaning toward any particular provider, and was considering entering into multiple contracts. A preliminary survey of the private prison industry showed Connecticut could get rates as low as $10 per prisoner per day, Ryan said. In Connecticut, it costs roughly $80 a day to house prisoners, he said. The Virginia contract's demise is giving some lawmakers that prison crowding reforms will move through the legislature. The proposals include building up community based programs and releasing prisoners more quickly when they become eligible for parole. They would also fund the state's jail re-interview program, which assesses whether inmates awaiting sentencing can be released into the community. "We need a long-term solution to this problem, and it's got to be a Connecticut solution. Not one that's going to be canceled with six months' notice," said Rep. Mike Lawlor, D-East Haven, chair of the legislature's Judiciary Committee. The proposed reforms do not eliminate the state's ability to send inmates to other states. But backers argue that the reforms will reduce the population enough so that it won't even be a discussion. "I don't think it's a problem at all creating that room in our system, so we can accept people coming back," said Rep. William Dyson, D-New Haven. Barbara Fair, an activist with People Against Injustice and the mother of an inmate who was sent to Virginia, said she doubted there would be any substantial change. "As long as they're trying to fill up cells somewhere else, that's what they're going to do," she said. (AP)

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