By MICHAEL D. BATES
Hernando Today (
Published: March 13, 2010
Updated: 03/13/2010 06:18 pm
BROOKSVILLE - Corrections Corporation of
But a representative of the private company that runs the jail said Tuesday he doesn't want to spend the money if the county plans to turn control over to the sheriff, an idea that is being considered.
"It's on hold for another 30 days until it's all sorted out," County Commission Chairman John Druzbick said. "The board has asked for additional information as to who may be running the jail and as soon as we straighten that out, we'll know if CCA retains the contract. Then I'm sure we'll entertain that proposal on fencing."
As of last October, the Hernando County Jail stopped housing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees, resulting in more than a 25 percent reduction in total inmate population, according to CCA official Natasha Metcalf.
"While CCA has made every effort to return the detainees to the facility, it does not appear that they will be returning in the near future," Metcalf said in a March 2 memo to County Administrator David Hamilton.
Metcalf said CCA is in discussions with a potential partner regarding housing up to 60 sentenced adult males.
Because of the additional security needs associated with a sentenced versus a pretrial population and to further modernize the jail's security, the company is proposing to install an electrified "stun fence" to keep prisoners from getting through the existing razor wire and escaping.
Metcalf said ICE detainees are now being housed in a newer facility more convenient for immigration officials and closer to the courts and ICE offices.
"In an effort to maintain the over 170 jobs at the facility and to improve the overall viability of the (jail), CCA is actively pursuing opportunities to house other inmate populations," she said.
Metcalf said CCA is willing to make the investment but is concerned about proceeding "under circumstances that could result in termination of the contract by the county and CCA's loss of its total investment."
County commissioners Tuesday put a proposal from Sheriff Richard Nugent to operate the jail on hold until April 13, giving staff time to do a cost analysis of which entity - the sheriff's department or CCA - can provide the best and cheapest service.
Reporter Michael D. Bates can be reached at 352-544-5290 or firstname.lastname@example.org.