Ariz. Prison Project Begins

SAN LUIS, Ariz. — The city-owned detention center that houses prisoners for the federal government will nearly double in size in an expansion project that is expected bring extra revenue to the city and create jobs.

Representatives of the city, the center?s operator and federal law enforcement agencies gathered in March for a groundbreaking ceremony. The expansion will increase bed capacity from 548 to 916.

The San Luis City Council voted earlier this year to issue $21 million in bonds to expand the center. The city contracts with Louisiana-based Emerald Correctional Management to run the prison, which mostly houses prisoners accused of breaking federal immigration laws. The expansion project is scheduled for completion by November.

The San Luis Regional Detention and Support Center currently employs 186 as detention officers and in various other capacities. Afeman said the expansion would create 72 additional jobs.

San Luis receives federal payments of $4 per day for each prisoner it houses in the center, totaling $400,000 in extra revenues annually. San Luis officials expect revenues to increase with the addition of the 368 beds.

The prisoners are housed on average 30 days in the facility while waiting for their court dates.

Part of revenue gained from housing federal inmates goes to pay off two bond issues totaling nearly $50 million that financed the construction of the detention center and which will now finance the expansion. The first issue five years ago, totaling $28 million, paid for purchase of the land and the construction of the existing buildings.

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