A judge ruled the city didn’t violate any laws when it enacted a $1 per-prisoner, per-day tax on private prisons.
The decision means Corrections Corporation of America owes the city about $1.3 million for federal prisoners at its Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road.
But the company will appeal, said Steve Owen, its spokesman.
“We’re disappointed with the ruling, and we do intend to pursue all of our procedural avenues, including filing an appeal,” he said.
Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court ruled Tuesday for summary judgment in favor of the city.
“We’ve made it through the process, and [CCA] is 21/2 years behind on payments,” said city Law Director Anthony Farris. “We think this is a fair fee imposed, and it should be paid. We’re looking for all of the back money, but we’re willing to listen to what else they have to say.”
As a way to generate more income at a time when the city’s government was facing serious financial challenges, city council approved legislation in November 2009, effective Dec. 1 of that year, taxing private prisons in Youngstown $1 a day for each convict it houses.
Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, the private prison owned by CCA, is the only facility that falls into that category.
The prison, which has a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, houses about 1,500 illegal aliens convicted of felonies.
In January 2010, Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit company based in Nashville, Tenn., filed a lawsuit contending the city ordinance violates the U.S. and Ohio constitutions and the city charter.
In his eight-page decision, the judge said the city law doesn’t violate the federal or state constitutions, or the city charter.