BUSINESS

Prison launches job-saving campaign

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

YOUNGSTOWN -- The company that owns the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center on Hubbard Road has launched a campaign to retain NEOCC's contract to house federally convicted and sentenced undocumented immigrants.

Corrections Corp. of America, the for-profit Nashville-Tenn.-based company that owns the prison, has created a new website, www.JobsFor-Youngstown.com, which asks local residents to write to their elected officials and U.S. Bureau of Prisons officials before Feb. 28 in support of renewal of the inmate-housing contract here.

Loss of that contract would eliminate most of NEOCC's 418 jobs, CCA said.

"The facility has an excellent track record in operating for the Bureau of Prisons," over the past decade, said Steven Owen, CCA's senior director of public affairs.

"It's a well-run facility with state-of-the-art security. It's independently accredited by the American Correctional Association," he said of NEOCC, for which CCA submitted its contract-renewal bid to the bureau in August.

"We're a good corporate citizen. We've been recognized nationally in GI Jobs as a top 50 military employer" of veterans, said Jeb Beasley, CCA's managing director of partnership relations.

On Wednesday, CCA executives met with Mayor-elect John A. McNally and gave a luncheon briefing on the matter to about 30 local business and elected leaders at the Covelli Centre.

"Jobs, jobs, jobs for the city of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley," McNally said when asked about the benefits of the Hubbard Road prison. "They've been a good community partner," the mayor-elect said of NEOCC and CCA. McNally said he recently sent BOP a letter of support for the lockup's contract renewal.

"They've had a 16-year track record here in Youngstown. They've been a good neighbor and a good employer," Tony Paglia, vice president for government and media affairs for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, said of the company and its prison.

"It's an important facility for the Valley. It's 400 jobs, and a lot of goods and services are purchased from local companies, so we'd like to retain them here. It's an important part of our economy," Paglia said of CCA's Youngstown lockup.

CCA's contract with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to house the immigrants here at $69.72 per inmate per day for 1,507 inmates expires May 31, 2015.

Beasley said BOP is expected to make a decision on its future inmate housing arrangements next spring. "The next six weeks are critical for us as far as community support," he said.

He urged local residents to write letters in support of NEOCC to Charles Samuels, director of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C.

The bureau is reviewing competitive bids from prisons for a new contract to house inmates and has said it will look at price per inmate and other factors in deciding where to award the contract.

"We expect this to be a highly competitive procurement from a pricing perspective," Owen said. "Community support is important."

The immigrants constitute about 75 percent of about 2,000 prisoners at the prison, which opened in 1997.

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