YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) decided on Dec. 29 not to renew its contract with the 2,016-bed Northeast Ohio Correction Center, a privately-owned prison in Youngstown for low-level offenders.
The prison currently houses about 1,400 federal inmates and 580 detainees for the U.S. Marshals Service, and also employs more than 400 people, according to Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the owner of the facility. It will stop housing prison inmates when the contract officially ends in May 2015; however, the CCA said the facility would continue to house detainees for the U.S. Marshals Service.
The facility generated approximately $30 million in revenue for the BOP during a nine-month period that ended Sept. 30, 2014. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio had been urging the BOP to end its contract with CCA because “handing control of prisons over to for-profit corporations is a recipe for abuse, neglect and misconduct,” according to the ACLU of Ohio website.
“We are pleased that the Bureau of Prisons listened to our concerns about the mismanagement of the facility and mistreatment of prisoners, and decided not to renew its contract with CCA,” said ACLU of Ohio Senior Policy Director Mike Brickner, in a statement. “However, we still are concerned that CCA will continue to house detainees for the U.S. Marshals Service at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown and operate the Lake Erie Correctional Institute in Conneaut, Ohio, for those imprisoned by the state of Ohio.”
“As a just society, we have a responsibility to ensure that our jails and prisons treat inmates and detainees fairly and humanely,” Brickner added. “The track record of for-profit prisons run by CCA and other private companies is disgraceful, with increased violence and drug use, overcrowding, neglected medical care, and deteriorating facilities. These deplorable conditions were recently highlighted by the peaceful protest of 140 prisoners at the Youngstown prison in August. The culture of secrecy at private prisons leads to a lack of transparency and accountability to the public. We cannot stress this enough — the for-profit prison business is bad for prisoners, prison employees, communities and taxpayers. We hope that the U.S. Marshals Service and the state of Ohio will follow the lead of the Bureau of Prisons and cancel their contracts with CCA.”
Despite the ACLU’s involvement, Chris Burke, a BOP spokesperson would not explain the reasoning behind ending the CCA contract, reported Cleveland.com. He did confirm that the $792.3 million contract with the BOP instead went to Moshannon Valley Correctional Center in Philipsburg, Pa., and Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton, Okla. Boca Raton, Fla.-based The Geo Group Inc. owns both facilities. The contract lasts for at least four years but could last as long as 10 years, according to the bid solicitation.
It has yet to be determined the timetable for moving the inmates.