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Corrections Corporation of America Announces Closing of Youngstown Prison

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) announced it would close its Youngstown, Ohio prison on August 18, 2001. The shutdown means the loss of more than 500 jobs. So much for the recession-proof industry.

The 2,016-bed Northeast Ohio Correctional Center last housed 350 prisoners from the District of Columbia. The Nashville-based CCA said the decision to close the prison was made after the District of Columbia decided not to renew its contract. The U. S. Bureau of Prisons is taking over jurisdiction of the D.C. prison system and plans to use other prisons.

Some laid-off employees might be offered jobs at CCA locations elsewhere, according to the company, but no specific numbers were mentioned. CCA runs 65 prisons with about 61,000 beds.

The Youngstown prison, which at one time housed up to 1,500 D.C. prisoners, has faced various problems over past years, which we have highlighted previously in PLN (see PLN March 2000). These problems include the 1997 stabbing deaths of two prisoners by other prisoners, a prisoner class-action lawsuit alleging excessive use of force by guards, and a 1998 prison escape.

Youngstown Mayor George McKelvey said the closing would be devastating economically to the city, which is still trying to recover from the loss of thousands of steel jobs more than 20 years ago. The prison had an annual payroll of about $11 million and paid the city $250,000 in income tax in 2000.

"They are one of the largest employers in the city," McKelvey told AP. "We're hopeful this notice is a proactive approach and they'll find contracts and fill the facility."

Source: Associated Press.

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