Obama-era memo rescinded, private prison now a possibility in Decatur County

Published 5:53 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A long-planned project between the Bainbridge-Decatur County Industrial Development Authority and CoreCivic to build a private federal prison in Decatur County received new life last week when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama administration memo that ended the federal government’s support of private prisons.

The original memo was released in August by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates following a study by the Justice Department’s Inspector General. Sessions rescinded the memo last Thursday with a one paragraph memo that read “The memorandum changed long-standing policy and practice, and impaired the Bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system. Therefore, I direct the Bureau to return to its previous approach,” according to The Washington Post.

Rick McCaskill, the executive director of the Bainbridge Decatur County IDA, said they have contacted CoreCivic, which was previously called Correction Corporation of America, to express their continued commitment to building the prison in Decatur County.

“We talked to them, and they feel like there is a real good chance that something is going to happen,” he said. “Everything is still in place and all the preliminary work they have done is still good so we are hoping that will happen.”

CoreCivic originally began discussions with Decatur County in 2010 and have already completed all the necessary preliminary work on the 110 acre site at the Decatur County Industrial Park.

“We have hoped for a long time that it will happen,” McCaskill said. “We have not changed our position. We would like to see that come into town because that would be an awful lot of careers.”

The holdup over the last six years has been a lack of bid opportunities for new federal prisons. McCaskill said that the IDA and CoreCivic are optimistic that the amount of bids will increase under the new presidential administration though.

“There just haven’t been any bids go out,” McCaskill said. “These guys have had this spot ready to send out on the next bid and no bids have gone out. We are anticipating that the bids are going to pick back up and we are going to start on building a federal prison.” 

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