Private Prison Demands Small Town Give It 300 More Prisoners Or It Will Close Down


A small community in New Mexico is learning firsthand the consequences of relying on corporate industry to fuel your economy. In the case of Torrance County, it’s the private prison industry. From a July 25 article by the Santa Fe New Mexican:

“The company that has operated a private prison in Estancia for nearly three decades has announced it will close the Torrance County Detention Facility and lay off more than 200 employees unless it can find 300 state or federal inmates to fill empty beds within the next 60 days, according to a statement issued Tuesday by county officials.”

The closure of the prison would mean a loss of about $700,000 in annual taxes and utility payments for the town of Estancia, which has a population of 1,500. Surrounding Torrance County would see a loss of around $300,000.

Incidentally, the county has no jail of its own, meaning the sheriff’s department would have to find new housing for the 50 to 75 people it arrests each month.

“This is a big issue for us,” county manager Belinda Garland told the Santa Fe New Mexican.


 “It’s going to affect Torrance County in a big way.”

The corporate entity that operates the facility, CoreCivic — formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America — is the second-largest private prison company in the nation. CoreCivic spokesman Jonathan Burns said this of the closing:

“The city of Estancia and the surrounding community have been a great partner to CoreCivic for the last 27 years. CoreCivic is grateful for the support the community has shown through the years and we’re honored to have been a part of that community. Unfortunately, a declining detainee population in general has forced us to make difficult decisions in order to maximize utilization of our resources.”

The majority of the facility’s inmates are detainees of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and CoreCivic officials point to a sharp decline in border arrests, along with criminal justice reforms, as causes behind the closure.

Chad Miller, the warden of the facility, told the Mountain View Telegraph the inmate population has been well under full capacity for a long while.

“The reality is that we’ve been operating at a loss for the last four years,” he said.


 “The question became for the company, ‘How long can you run something that’s not profitable? At what point do you say enough is enough?’”

Currently, state and local officials are working with CoreCivic to try to secure more contracts - meaning more bodies - before facility operations end on September 23.

“We’re reaching out to anybody that can help us,” county manager Garland said 


“We hate to see this facility close.”


techpriest factorypreset Sat, 08/05/2017 - 14:56 Permalink

State-run industry. Like they do in China (certain sectors are under explicit ownership of the Party) or NK (everything under state ownership).

Remember, before private prisons, there were state-run prisons that were overcrowded and poorly managed.

If we end the drug war, we can go back to the old system of a small number of state prisons, holding violent criminals.

In reply to by factorypreset

Miss Expectations Sat, 08/05/2017 - 12:03 Permalink

There are 535 members in the United States Congress, 100 senators (two per state) and 435 members of the House of Representatives (varying numbers per state depending on population).

swmnguy Lumberjack Sat, 08/05/2017 - 12:52 Permalink

I don't have a problem with that program at all.  These are teachers, social workers, cops, etc., who have to have at least a Bachelor's and usually a Masters degree.  At least $50,000 in student loan debt, just to get the initial qualifications for the job.  People with this level of qualifications make a helluva lot more money in the private sector; these are all professional jobs.  They took a public job and the pay cut that comes with it, on the understanding that if they worked at it long enough, they'd pay off their student loans in that way.Changing the program, in effect retroactively, is exactly the same bullshit the military does to veterans when they screw around with their GI Bill benefits.  Or when corporations cancel or cut their retirement benefits.These benefits (and costs) were part of their total compensation package.  Without them the job wasn't worth it.  Stealing pennies back from people who held up their side of the bargain is exactly the kind of criminal behavior that has infested our whole society.

In reply to by Lumberjack

toady Robert Trip Sat, 08/05/2017 - 13:00 Permalink

That's Mexican/ICE territory.... They left when Trump was elected, so they need to find another minority group to target....I think you got it right... targeting blacks seems to fill prisons in other regions.... But New Mexico doesn't really have inner city shitholes where the niggers tend to congregate...Any other ethnic groups in the New Mexico region that want to step up and fill the void? Maybe they can contract with the Indian reservations in the area....

In reply to by Robert Trip

Ex-Oligarch toady Sat, 08/05/2017 - 15:41 Permalink

They should check with the Albequerque PD.  Surely there must be some vagrants and petty criminals down there that the cops haven't yet shot or beaten to death. EDIT:  Wait, I've got it!  Just lock up the Albequerque PD.  Solves everybody's problems at one stroke.

In reply to by toady