NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Standing alongside activists, two metro councilmembers said Thursday they have backing from the sheriff’s office to fully severe ties with Core Civic’s operation of the metro detention center in South Nashville.

Councilmembers Freddie O’Connell and Emily Benedict said a news conference that Sheriff Daron Hall has alerted them that an analysis shows state reimbursement funds can be diverted from Core Civic to his department for operation of the center which houses state inmates.

Hall said in an email to O’Connell that the switch up of operations would come at a minimal cost to taxpayers.

“It’s important to point out this change would be a philosophical one, not performance based,” Hall said in a statement.

Benedict said her metro legislation, which is up for a second reading, would stop private operations of jails in Davidson County by 2022.

“I want Core Civic to know that it is no longer acceptable to use tax dollars to line your pockets,” Benedict said.

A statement from Core Civic criticized the councilmembers, reading in part, ““…pushing an agenda that’s free of facts and ideologically driven. This proposed action would not only result in millions of dollars in increased liabilities to the Metro budget and taxpayers, but it would also potentially jeopardize the life-changing reentry programming …”

Core Civic currently earns $18 million a year for operating the center.

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Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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