Forum on privately run prison set for Sept. 13

August 16, 2001|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

A community forum on a proposed privately run prison in Imperial County will start at 6 p.m. Sept. 13 in the Imperial Irrigation District boardroom auditorium, 1285 Broadway, in El Centro.

The forum will be sponsored by Correctional Services Corp. of Sarasota, Fla., which would build and operate the facility if it is approved.

The prison would be adjacent to the county jail south of El Centro and would house up to 1,500 low-risk criminal immigrants.

Ken Hollis, executive director of Imperial County Community and Economic Development, said the facility may mean up to $60-$70 million in new money to the area. Construction costs are estimated at $50-$60 million and from 300 to 350 jobs paying $18-$19 per hour would result.


The project was the subject of a public presentation at Southwest High School in El Centro last October by representatives of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and CSC. That forum had a low turnout, said Trisha Ferrand, economic development coordinator at ICCED.

Based on a notice of intent to prepare a draft environmental impact statement filed by the Bureau of Prisons in September 2000, the BOP is facing a never-before-seen increase in number of inmates. Low-security federal prisons will be especially hit hard by the growth.

The document states the BOP is seeking contractor-owned and contractor-operated prisons and considering 20 sites throughout California and Arizona.

The county Board of Supervisors briefly discussed the issue at its June 19 meeting but did not state any support for the prison. The board had previously adopted a resolution in June 2000 in support of a new federal prison but the resolution did not extend to those facilities run privately.

Audience comments and questions will be welcome at the meeting.

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