Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Stewart County officials have signed a service agreement to house and care for detainees in the privately-built, 1,524-bed Stewart Detention Center near Lumpkin. Occupancy should begin Oct. 1.
The $45 million prison, built by Corrections Corporation of America of Nashville, Tenn., never has been occupied since it was essentially completed in 2004.
It will employ about 311 people and is expected to be substantially occupied during 2007, said Steve Owen, CCA's director of marketing.
"This is the biggest thing to happen to Stewart County since I've been here," Stewart County Commission chairman John Stonie Patterson said Monday. "Everything's been leaving rather than coming in the 10 years I've been here. The biggest thing this will do is provide jobs for the county and the area."
CCA and Stewart County signed an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, that runs through Dec. 31, 2011, with an indefinite number of renewals.
"We are grateful to be able to assist ICE by providing a viable solution in its efforts to consolidate and create some efficiencies in managing their detainee populations," said John Ferguson, CCA president and CEO.
Under the agreement, ICE will pay the county $54.25 per day per inmate housed there, with that money to be turned over to CCA, the owner/operator of the prison. Patterson said he hopes ICE can work out a means of directly paying CCA.