Wackenhut Corrections Plans Alternate Use for Jena, Louisiana Facility
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (NYSE: WHC) has informed the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections that it intends to contact other state and federal agencies regarding the conversion of its Jena, Louisiana juvenile facility to a facility for the housing of adult inmates or detainees. Wackenhut stated that it will cooperate fully with the Department of Public Safety and Corrections to ensure an orderly transition of the juvenile residents currently housed at the facility to other suitable facilities over a period of several months.
During the transition period, Wackenhut will continue to follow all of the provisions of the Settlement Agreement recently agreed to by the State of Louisiana, Wackenhut and the United States Department of Justice.
Dr. George C. Zoley, Wackenhut Corrections' Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "We regret the need to take this action. We have enjoyed a close working partnership with the State of Louisiana in the operation of a large-scale adult prison for over ten years. We will ensure that the transition of our Jena facility will be done in a manner that is satisfactory to the State."
"When we began this project one and a half years ago, we became embroiled in a long-standing federal lawsuit among the state, the Department of Justice, and private plaintiffs, involving the operation of the state's juvenile facilities. In addition, the private sector had come under harsh scrutiny as a result of problems that arose at a privately managed juvenile facility located in Tallullah, Louisiana. We have made extensive improvements to the Jena Juvenile Justice Center, a facility that we believe has met and continues to meet or exceed all constitutional standards. Nevertheless, we have reluctantly concluded that it would be in everyone's best interest for Wackenhut to seek an alternative use for the facility and to allow the State, the Justice Department and the private plaintiffs to resolve their differences with respect to the ongoing operation of the State's juvenile system without our further participation in the process."
Dr. Zoley added, "Jena and LaSalle Parish have been very supportive of this project, and the economic development it has brought to the community. We will make every effort to ensure the continued employment of our staff at the facility throughout the transition period. We will, of course, continue to meet our obligations to the private owner of the facility as a lessee and to the community as a taxpayer."
Wackenhut Corrections, a world leader in the privatized corrections industry, has contracts/awards to manage 56 correctional/detention facilities in North America, Europe and Australia with a total of 40,704 beds. It also provides mental health services, including 436 beds at mental health facilities; correctional health care services; prisoner transportation; and electronic monitoring for home detainees. It is the industry leader in the international market, with awards or contracts for over 55 percent of the prison beds which have been privatized in countries outside of the United States.
Wackenhut Corrections is a subsidiary of The Wackenhut Corporation (NYSE: WAK WAKB) and offers government agencies a turnkey approach to developing new correctional and mental health institutions that includes design, construction, financing and operations. It provides a broad spectrum of correctional services, which include adult corrections, juvenile facilities, community corrections and special purpose institutions.