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New federal contract adds more jobs at Adams County prison
from Staff Reports - NEWS
September 4, 2019 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – A new prison contract to incarcerate immigrants detained by the federal government is bringing more jobs to Adams County.

CoreCivic announced Tuesday it has remade a contract to hold immigrants illegally in the country at the company’s Adams County prison, which had faced an uncertain future of remaining open since losing a previous contract.

As one of Adams County’s largest employers with about 400 workers, CoreCivic will continue operating the prison with even more employees, said Chandler Russ, Natchez-Adams County’s chief industrial recruiter. This is through an arrangement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to house ICE detainees at the 2,232-bed facility.

“We’ll end up with 50 net new jobs out of this deal,” Russ said. “By far, this is the best-case scenario we could have hoped for.”

Russ is executive director of Natchez Inc., the partnership funded by city, county and private funds to lure and retain business and jobs for the community.

The new ICE contract replaces one CoreCivic had with the Federal Bureau of Prisons since 2009 to hold undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes before being deported.

Since that contract expired, CoreCivic has been trying to find another government agency in need of the private prison. The Adams County Correctional Center has in recent months on a contingency basis been taking ICE detainees, including undocumented immigrants arrested in August while working at Mississippi chicken-processing plants.

Located about 12 miles east of Natchez on U.S. 84/98, the prison has been incarcerating about 600 ICE detainees, according to the company, which expects more to be sent there to fill the prison space with the new contract that took effect last Thursday as the old contract fully expired.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is facing a critical, emergent need for detention capacity,” said CoreCivic Public Affairs Manager Brandon Bissell.

The Tennessee-based prison corporation said it entered into the new contract under an intergovernmental agreement between Adams County and ICE. Russ said the Adams County Board of Supervisors is functioning merely as a governmental conduit for CoreCivic to imprison ICE detainees. The board has been meeting in sessions closed to the public this past month to discuss how to keep the prison operating.

About 390 workers have been operating the private prison since it opened in 2009, Russ said, and CoreCivic will need about 35 more while ICE will additionally employ about 25 there.

While being among Adams County’s largest employers, CoreCivic is one of the biggest taxpayers, generating about $2 million a year in revenues for the county and school district, Russ said.

As “a bonus,” Russ said, the county will also receive a share of the revenues CoreCivic gets from the federal government for housing immigrants. That could amount to about $400,000 annually.

The new contract is expected to generate a total of $50 million to $60 million a year in revenues, according to the company. Built at a cost of $128 million in 2009, the prison in 2018 generated $60.9 million in revenues for CoreCivic.

"We continue to be uniquely positioned to assist our government partners at ICE, through our flexible real estate solutions and services, as they work to address critical national and international challenges," CoreCivic President Damon Hininger said in a press release announcing the new contract. "Our sole job is to help government solve problems in ways it can't do alone, and we have worked in this same capacity for ICE throughout our 35 year partnership."

Bissell said the ACCC's current employees are prepared for the change. “Our experienced, professional workforce at Adams County has already met rigorous federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) screening standards, and they are being cross-trained to meet federal ICE detention standards,” he said.

The new contract is initially for five years with unlimited extension options upon mutual agreement by the company and federal government.

“This agreement is a strong example of the flexibility we can provide. As needs change over time, our government partners can easily alter their use of our facilities,” Bissell said. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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