Tag Archives: CCA

Admission of inmates halted by problems at new private TN prison

By Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s newest prison has stopped taking inmates after just four months of full operation. Records obtained by The Associated Press suggest why.

State corrections officials and the private prisons operator Corrections Corporation of America confirmed to the AP that the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center halted new admissions two weeks ago, leaving the 2500-inmate prison about two-thirds full.

A company spokesman on Tuesday blamed “growing pains.” Both said the decision was made jointly.

“We’re holding off on sending more prisoners until CCA has an opportunity to increase its recruiting efforts and staffing,” Tennessee Department of Correction Assistant Commissioner Tony Parker told the AP.

The prison in Hartsville began receiving inmates in January, between 50 and 100 each week. By early March, its warden was replaced. CCA provided few details about the change of command.

But a March 17 report to Parker from his Correctional Administrator Tony Howerton, who observed the prison over two days, outlines a series of problems.

The memo — obtained by the AP through an open records request for public documents about the taxpayer-funded facility — says the guards were not in control of the housing units, were not counting inmates correctly, and were putting inmates in solitary confinement for no documented reason.
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State closing Nashville prison, contracting with CCA to house inmates in Trousdale County

Tennessee prison officials are planning to close a state prison in Nashville and start sending some inmates to a new Corrections Corporation of America facility being built in Trousdale County, reports the Chattanooga TFP, though the two moves are said not to be coordinated.

Still, Corrections Commissioner Derrick Schofield acknowledged some of the estimated 660 minimum-security inmates at the state-owned and run Charles B. Bass Correctional Complex could eventually wind up at the new prison in Trousdale County.

“At some point they may transfer to Trousdale,” Schofield said, but quickly noted “that’s not our intent” behind closing the Bass complex.

The state in July signed a contract with Trousdale County, which in turn has contracted with CCA as it builds a new prison there. The Nashville-based, investor-owned company is constructing a $140 million medium-security prison in the county and will own and operate it.

Closing Bass makes economic sense, Schofield said, citing a $92 cost-per-day for each inmate, compared to about $74 a day for other state-run prisons in Nashville.

Besides, the commissioner pointed out, the state’s plan calls for closing Bass by June 30, 2015, provided the Republican-controlled Legislature approves it during lawmakers’ annual legislative session starting in January.

And the CCA-run prison in Trousdale is not expected to open until January 2016, the commissioner said. Some legislative staffers, however, note the June 30 timeline could be pretty tight given the budget isn’t likely to pass until April.

Schofield’s comments came following a public budget presentation before Republican Gov. Bill Haslam in which he outlined plans to close Bass, a 765-bed facility. The department estimates that would save $15.28 million, part of $20.48 million in departmental spending cuts he is recommending.

…Meanwhile, Correction Department officials are requesting $79.99 million in cost increases, including $11 million for the contract signed with Trousdale County in July to house and manage the CCA-owned 2,552-bed new prison.

CCA purchased the property in 2008 with an eye toward building a prison but then-Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen showed little interest it.

The Macon County Times reported in May that local county commissioners approved two major deals. One was with the state in which Trousdale would become the “contracted facilitator” for the prison.

The second was between Trousdale and CCA where the company would own and operate the prison and house state inmates.

That’s a deal similar to two other CCA-run prisons that were approved under Republican Gov. Don Sundquist’s administration in the 1990s. Both contracts are with Hardeman County which in turn contracted with CCA.

CCA Wants to Buy a Tennessee Prison

Corrections Corporation of America has expressed interest in buying a state-owned prison southwest of Nashville as part of a strategy it’s pitching to most state governments as a partial cure to their budget shortfalls, according to The Tennessean.
The private prison operator has set aside $250 million to embark on the national effort. In informal conversations with state corrections officials in Tennessee in recent weeks, Nashville-based CCA cited South Central Correctional Facility in Clifton, Tenn., as a possible target.
“(State) officials have been intrigued and want to learn more, but that has been the extent of the conversation so far,” said Tony Grande, chief development officer with CCA.
Last month, the company sent letters to 48 states informing them of the initiative. In the letter, CCA said it’s trying to replicate what it considers a successful deal last year involving the 1,798-bed Lake Erie Correctional Facility in Conneaut, Ohio, which CCA acquired in exchange for a 20-year contract to manage that prison plus other guarantees.
Steve Owen, a CCA spokesman, said the company plans to follow up with other states to make them aware of the company’s new program and possible cost savings.

Christian-Operated Prison Proposed in TN

A Texas-based nonprofit group wants to build a 600-be prison in Maury County that would be staffed only by Christians and take a faithbased approach to rehabilitating inmates, reports The Columbia Daily Herald. The Christian prison would be managed by a group called Corrections Concepts.
(Note: An early version of this post mistakenly referred to CCA, which is not involved.)
Some excerpts from the story:
Jerry Hodges, president of Columbia-based SRM Construction Inc. and a longtime supporter of the project, said he believes the prison would help convicts rebuild their lives while providing an economic benefit to the community.
“It is a very, very Godly inspired — from my perspective — approach to corrections,” said Hodges, who would serve as the project’s construction manager. “I think God will look lightly on Maury County for being kind and gracious enough to want this in their community.”
The project is being proposed by Corrections Concepts Inc., a nonprofit prison ministry based in Dallas. The organization was founded by Bill Robinson, who spent time in federal prison for writing bad checks during the 1960s before becoming a born-again Christian.
Supporters say the project will help the local economy by providing 153 jobs that would pay an average salary of $30,225. In addition, they estimate the county would receive about $550,000 in annual payments from the prison.
The facility is also estimated to bring more than 200 construction jobs and as many as 375 support jobs.
But some county officials have already expressed concerns about allowing a prison to be built in Maury County. Commissioner June Beckum said she is worried about how the facility would affect property values.
…Corrections Concepts’ proposal calls for accepting convicts from across the United States with 12-30 months left before their earliest release date. Inmates would have to volunteer to serve time in the facility and sign an agreement to be admitted.
… Corrections Concepts does not presently operate a prison, but it has signed an agreement with leaders in Wakita, Okla., a small town near the Oklahoma and Kansas state line, to build a similar facility.
The organization’s vision calls for eventually building four prisons. The facilities would house men, women, juveniles and the elderly. The group has tried to build prisons in more than a dozen locations but has been unsuccessful.
… Robinson said the county would own the prison and engage in intergovernmental agreements with states for inmates. The prison itself would be operated and managed by Corrections Concepts.
The $42 million project would be financed with bonds. Robinson said he needs a commitment of 287 inmates at a rate of $42.80 a day per prisoner for bond sales to begin.
…State Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, and state Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, penned letters in support of the project.
Butt wrote in her letter that the “project is not only economically and socially feasible, but could have a great impact on individual lives, families and communities.”

Haslam Budget Provides $31 Million to Keep CCA-Operated Prison Open

(Note: Expands and replaces earlier post.)
By Erik Schelzig
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has found nearly $31 million in recurring money to keep open a privately run prison in West Tennessee while making deep cuts to other areas such as TennCare and higher education.
Former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen sought to close the Hardeman County Correctional Facility at Whiteville by December. But lawmakers added the money needed to run the prison through June, and Haslam in his budget address last week announced plans to restore permanent funding for the facility operated by the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America.
“We went back and weren’t certain that we would adequately be able to take care of the prison population that we needed to and do it at a cost that would make sense,” Haslam told reporters after a tour of a community college in Nashville last week. “We could have saved some money by closing that, but in the end we didn’t think it was the right thing to do for the corrections system.”
Haslam’s conclusions stand in contrast to Bredesen’s view expressed last year that keeping the prison open was “not really justified.”

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