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CCA Prison in Ohio Loses BOP Contract

CCA Prison in Ohio Loses BOP Contract

The privately-owned Northeast Ohio Correctional Center (NOCC) in Youngstown no longer holds prisoners for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) after the federal agency declined to renew its contract with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

According to CCA, around 1,400 BOP prisoners and 580 detainees for the U.S. Marshals Service were housed at the 2,016-bed facility. The prison employed about 400 people.

The non-renewal of the two-year contract between CCA and the BOP was announced in late December 2014, and the contract expired in May 2015. The BOP’s new contract, with CCA competitor GEO Group, is worth $792.3 million and lasts for at least four years with options to extend up to 10 years.

The BOP prisoners at NOCC were transferred to the GEO-operated Moshannon Valley Correctional Center in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania and Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton, Oklahoma. NOCC will continue to house detainees for the U.S. Marshals under a contract that expires in 2018; however, that small population is unlikely to sustain the facility over the long-term.

The decision to award the BOP contract to GEO Group did not sit well with local officials. Mahoning County Commissioner Dave Ditzler blamed President Obama: “He’s a Democrat, you know this is a Democratic area and the two prisons that they’re moving the individuals to are both in Republican-held congressional districts.”

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan said he was “disappointed” with the BOP’s decision but vowed to find new contracts for the facility. “It’s not over until it’s over,” he stated. “There are other federal contracts out there; I think other opportunities that we can start pursuing. We’re just not going to let go as easily as some may want us to.”

Ryan’s concern was for the local economy that depends on NOCC – and his CCA-employed constituents in the district where the prison is located, no doubt. Not only will the loss of the contract result in layoffs, it will decrease the $1.9 million the City of Youngstown and local school district receive from income and property taxes. In May 2015, CCA announced 103 job terminations due to the BOP contract loss.

The company said it will “actively market the facility to provide solutions for new government partners.” Meanwhile, Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally said CCA had requested a debriefing to learn why the contract was not renewed. The BOP’s decision was likely due in part to cost; CCA charged $69.72 per prisoner per diem, while GEO is charging $65.22 per diem at the Moshannon Valley Correctional Center.

Before the BOP contract was shifted to GEO Group, CCA had set up a website where Youngstown residents could submit letters urging federal officials to renew the contract at NOCC. The local newspaper, the Youngstown Vindicator, abandoning all pretense of impartiality in its news reporting, strongly supported renewal of the BOP contract – though criticized CCA after the contract went to GEO Group.

The ACLU of Ohio opposed renewing the contract.

“We are pleased that the Bureau of Prisons listened to our concerns about the mismanagement of the facility and mistreatment of prisoners, and decided not to renew its contract with CCA,” said ACLU of Ohio senior policy director Mike Bricker. “As a just society, we have a responsibility to ensure that our jails and prisons treat inmates and detainees fairly and humanely.... The track record of for-profit prisons run by CCA and other private companies is disgraceful, with increased violence and drug use, overcrowding, neglected medical care, and deteriorating facilities.”

NOCC had previously closed in 2001. As PLN reported at the time, when the facility housed prisoners from the District of Columbia, the closure followed the prison’s sordid history in the 1990s, including high levels of violence, two homicides, a class-action lawsuit and a mass escape. [See: PLN, Aug. 1999, p.14; Nov. 15, 1998, p.6].