Resolution approved supporting low-risk federal prison

September 20, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The El Centro City Council unanimously approved a resolution and letter in support of locating a privately run prison for low-risk illegal immigrants near the city.

The proposal is by Correctional Services Corp. of North Palm Beach, Fla. The facility would be adjacent to the county jail off Clark Road south of El Centro.

The privately run facility would be one of numerous under contract to the federal Bureau of Prisons, three of which are to be built in California and Arizona.

The facility is expected to cost $60 million to build and would result in about 350 jobs. The lowest-paying position would be $22,000 a year while the highest would be $100,000, according to information provided by Richard Kolb, CSC vice president for real estate and business development.


He said all employees would receive appropriate training, full benefits and tuition reimbursement, among others benefits. He said that as a private company CSC would pay taxes.

Opposition to the proposal came from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. Lance Corcoran, CCPOA vice president, criticized the proposal. He said privately run detention facilities are not as good as those run by government.

Corcoran also said it is more appropriate when government employees with badges or patches — that is, the public — are depriving a person of his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The council asked Sheriff Harold Carter to weigh in on the issue.

Carter said privately run prisons have no more or fewer problems than government-run facilities. He said in a perfect world he would rather governments run such facilities but the federal government has made the decision to contract for such services. Carter also said he has had to transfer local inmates to privately run prisons in San Diego and has lost about $2 million yearly in income because of it.

In other business, the council:

· approved $75,000 for the purchase of two emergency generators for the city's two fire stations.

· gave direction to staff to develop a simple method of tracking absences of members of the city's boards and commissions.

· approved the use of $76,038 in local law enforcement block grant money. The city will add $8,449 to that amount in matching funds. The Police Department proposes the money be used for essential equipment directly related to basic law enforcement functions.

· delayed action on what regulations and fees should be implemented for the usage of the El Centro Town Square facility.

· approved a request to change zoning on the north side of the 200 block of West State Street from general commercial to single-family residential.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles