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Business as Usual

Wackenhut further angered state officials by saying they must pay for the empty bed space at the Santa Rosa facility caused by transferring prisoners to the Virginia supermax. According to the state's contract, Wackenhut claimed, the state must pay as though the prison is 90 percent full even if it isn't. The company demanded $5,000 a day for the vacant bed space; the state is already paying Virginia approximately $7,000 a day for the 109 prisoners housed at the Wallens Ridge facility.

Corrections Secretary Perry stated he had no intention of paying Wackenhut for the empty beds, citing a letter of agreement signed by Wackenhut president Wayne Calabrese specifying that the 90 percent occupancy requirement did not apply to the Santa Rosa facility. Wackenhut officials countered that the letter was not a "final amendment" to the state's contract.

While the Corrections Department and Dept. of Public Safety are holding a board of inquiry into the Santa Rosa riot and Wackenhut's handling of the disturbance, state lawmakers have also requested an independent investigation coordinated through the Attorney General's office.

On Sept. 10, 1999, Attorney General Patricia Madrid asked the State Board of Finance for an emergency loan of $100,000 to hire a contractor to conduct the investigation. Otherwise, due to budget constraints, her office might not have enough money to fund the investigation, she said. Wackenhut offered to help pay for the independent investigation.

According to New Mexico officials, the prisoners held in the Virginia supermax may stay there up to a year. Meanwhile, Wackenhut continues to house state prisoners at its Hobbs and Santa Rosa facilities.

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