CCA urges public to join campaign for prisoner contract renewal
By Peter H. Milliken
The company that operates the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road wants local residents to continue writing to their U.S. senators and representatives and to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in support of renewal of the bureau’s prisoner-housing contract here.
BOP’s contract to house 1,507 immigrant prisoners at NEOCC expires May 31, 2015.
Steven Owen, senior director of public affairs for the Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corp. of America, which owns NEOCC, said he expects the bureau to make its decision in October on where to house these prisoners in the future.
The federally convicted and sentenced undocumented immigrants comprise about 70 percent of NEOCC’s population of 2,148 inmates, according to last year’s state inspection report.
The institution employs 443 and has a $20 million payroll, the report said.
Through its advertising, CCA is urging the public to visit its jobsforyoungstown.com website to get involved in NEOCC’s prison-job retention campaign.
On Tuesday, CCA executives took a site-acquisition specialist and a contract engineer from BOP on a tour of NEOCC, said Jeb Beasley, CCA’s managing director of partnership relations.
“The Bureau of Prisons is going and conducting tours of other facilities, so there is still competition out there, which, again, I think, underscores the importance of community support in this process,” Owen said.
“We have seen tremendous support thus far, not only from the community, but from local, state and federal elected officials. We’ve seen bipartisan support,” for the CCA campaign in Youngstown, Owen said.
“We just hope to continue that momentum down the stretch here as we get closer to the fall and a final decision by the Bureau of Prisons,” Owen added.
A state inspection, conducted last year by eight members of the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, said the facility was “very clean” and had very few dangerous incidents because it houses a low-security inmate population.
In the immigrant population housed under BOP’s contract, 57 percent of the inmates are Mexicans.
Fifty eight percent of the immigrant prisoners are serving time for illegal entry or re-entry offenses, with the average stay at NEOCC being 133 days for the immigrant population.
The state report says NEOCC regularly assigns three inmates to a cell, which the report said could pose a security risk.
However, Beasley said triple-celling is non-existent in the BOP immigrant group, in which inmates are housed two to a cell.
“It’s more of a common practice with the U.S. Marshal’s population,” Beasley said of triple-celling.
NEOCC houses an average of 516 prisoners for the U.S. Marshal’s Service, and 55 percent of that group has been sentenced on drug- conspiracy charges.
The USMS population includes transient prisoners awaiting sentencing or transfer to a federal penitentiary, Beasley said.
“That’s temporary in nature. It’s not a permanent solution,” Owen said of triple-celling.