Source: Sherry Bradley, Times Free Press, October 2, 2016
And for more than two decades, county officials have failed to fund any long-term solutions, instead trying a variety of initiatives and minor expansions that created only temporary relief, while refusing to build a new jail. Now, Hamilton County Commissioners are again looking at whether to build a new jail — and this time they’re considering bids from private companies to build and run the facility. … This year, the jail was cited for having many inoperable fixtures, like showers, toilets and lights. In March, Chief of Corrections Joe Fowler said he believed the jail was failing to provide acceptable living conditions to inmates because some inmates didn’t have regular access to showers or toothbrushes. After failing an inspection, jails are given 60 days to correct the problems before a scheduled re-inspection. In all but one year since 2010, the jail was certified upon re-inspection, records show. The jail was decertified during 2014. It’s not uncommon for jails to fail to meet state standards upon first inspection — typically more than half of jails fail initially, said Kevin Walters, a spokesman for the Tennessee Corrections Institute. He refused to make any TCI officials available for interview and instead answered questions in emailed statements. … The county has two options: build the jail itself and run it with county personnel, or contract with a private company to build and operate the jail, just as Silverdale is currently run by Corrections Corporation of America. In August, the county asked private correctional companies to submit plans for a new jail. The combined jail and workhouse would be located at the Silverdale site and should have a total of 1,800 beds, according to the proposal. … Three private companies have expressed interest, including CCA, whose 30-year contract, due to expire, recently was temporarily extended. But Coppinger faces some stiff opposition to privatizing the jail. Some commissioners worry that private operation will be more expensive, would require the county to sign a 50-year contract, and could drive up the number of incarcerated people as the company strives to turn a profit. …
Report On Privatizing County Jail Due Out Sept. 30
Source: The Chattanoogan, September 22, 2016
County Mayor Jim Coppinger said a report by consultants is due Sept. 30 on the feasibility of closing the current downtown jail and replacing it with a smaller holding facility, while moving many more inmates to the workhouse at Silverdale. He said he plans to outline findings in the report to members of the County Commission at a work session. The PFM consulting firm was hired to look into the ins and outs of privatizing the jail. The workhouse has long been operated by the private Corrections Corporation of America. … County Mayor Coppinger said before any plan could move forward it would need to have the concurrence of Sheriff Jim Hammond, who is over the jail. He said he had a good meeting with the sheriff on that topic on Wednesday morning. The county mayor said the private firm “has run the workhouse for over three decades and it has worked out pretty well. It has saved taxpayers millions of dollars.” He noted that the federal prison system had stopped using CCA recently, but he said the federal and county prisoner systems have a number of differences.
County invests over $500,000 in effort to privatize its jail
Source: Paul Leach, Times Free Press, May 5, 2016
In February, three companies said they were interested in constructing and operating a new jail on behalf of the county: Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and Emerald Companies. CCA has operated the Silverdale facility since 1984. On Wednesday, commissioners voted 8-0 to approve a legal services agreement for up to $250,000 with McguireWoods LLP and Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel. Commissioner Randy Fairbanks was absent. … In January, the county agreed to pay PFM $30,000 a month for up to seven months, plus a $250,000 bonus if the county signs an agreement with a private jail operator. In addition to that $460,000 agreement, the county also paid PFM $150,000 to analyze jail alternatives, develop a project schedule and assist with technical and legal advisers when the county commission hired them in August.
Firm will look at privatizing county jail
Source: David Morton, Nooga.com, August 5, 2015
Public Financial Management will begin a comprehensive review of Hamilton County’s two correctional facilities. County officials are exploring the prospect of turning the jail over to a private company. The facility is currently run by the sheriff’s office and is used by other law enforcement agencies in the county. Corrections Corporation of America’s contract to manage the Silverdale Detention Center is set to expire next April. CCA has run Silverdale since 1984.