A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit claiming the Maury County Sheriff’s Department exceeded its authority and violated a Columbia man’s rights after he was arrested for a traffic violation in January 2011, then transported to the custody of immigration officials in Nashville, according to the Columbia Daily Herald. Chief U.S. District Judge William J. Haynes Jr. entered an order of summary judgment Friday on behalf of Maury County, dismissing the lawsuit brought in January 2012 by Victor Manuel Ramirez-Mendoza. Haynes’ order was accompanied by a 14-page memorandum exploring the constitutional issues raised by Ramirez-Mendoza and explaining why the case would not go to trial.
The lawsuit originally also claimed that General Sessions Judge Bobby Sands had violated Ramirez-Mendoza’s constitutional rights by commenting in court on his ethnic origins. It alleged that during a public hearing, Sands said “it’ll be better to send him to Mexico, because he’s costing us a lot of money here.”
But Sands was dropped from the lawsuit last July after court audio and transcripts showed he had made no such comment. “The court records show that the court was more than fair and considerate, and I was stunned by the lawsuit,” Sands said at the time. “In my opinion, it was highly professionally irresponsible.
COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) — Fourteen Maury County inmates have sued the sheriff, claiming their living conditions violate the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge William Haynes held a daylong hearing on the grievances and toured the jail with Sheriff Enoch George and others, including a Daily Herald reporter.
The newspaper (http://bit.ly/OV6zBv ) reported Haynes had to step over puddled sewage at one point. Inmates crowded around the small windows in their cell doors to display open wounds. They also pointed to bed mats that they said were covered with mold.
Along with next week’s Presidential primary, voters in Maury County will be deciding on consolidating into a Metro Government similar to Nashville, reports WPLN. Under the proposal, the city of Columbia and Maury County would combine into a single government. The towns of Spring Hill and Mount Pleasant would remain separate.
It’s a big deal–departments merging, creating a single county commission–but Michael Chester says some residents are unaware of the vote. He’s with SOCM-Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment.
“Just this week I brought up in a conversation with someone and they had no idea. Never heard of it.”
SOCM hasn’t taken a side on the Metro issue, but it will be hosting a forum Tuesday night, where residents can ask questions of both sides. Supporters say Metro government will save money and make Maury County more attractive for businesses. Opponents say the claims of savings are nebulous and property taxes will go up.
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.”