NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A Metro Councilmember announced Tuesday she plans to file legislation to stop private prison operators from contracting with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, according to a statement.
Councilmember Emily Benedict said she will file the legislation.
“As previously reported through other media, the current contract with the for-profit jail operator is scheduled to end on January 31. Today I have asked Metro Procurement for status on the request for proposal that is required to either renew this contract, award it to another private operator, or determine that TDOC will no longer outsource its operations. Those RFP details should be provided very soon.
“One thing we know: when we outsource jobs to for-profit companies we end up with higher costs and fewer services. These companies will cut every corner in the name of shareholder value. Corporations have been clear for years: they have a commitment to creating shareholder value instead of a commitment to their employees, their vendors, and their customers. As a customer of CoreCivic, how can the Nashville-Davidson County reconcile CoreCivic’s interest in only providing shareholder value? How many corners will they cut in the humane treatment of our prisoners to make their balance sheet look good?
“Financially, and morally, what is the price that every Nashvillian pays? I can’t answer the moral price - that is up to the individual, although I know where I stand. Financially, for $0.14 per day, we can fire this company. That’s $52.50 per year for the average homeowner. In my opinion, that is a small price to pay for a tremendous payoff. Ending this contract will also save the State over $15M every year - more than $60M over the next five years, the normal length of these contracts.
“Nashville has the opportunity to be a leader in putting people ahead of profiteers. As we work through a new, balanced budget, we can set the stage for terminating this contract. For $50 per year, this should be an easy decision for my colleagues.”
A Metro Councilman is looking at what it would take for the city to take over some privately-operated jails.
Councilman Freddie O’Connell launched a study into how much it would cost and if it would be feasible for the Sheriff’s Office to take over instead of a business specializing in operating jails and prisons.”
The Sheriff’s Office released the report in September.
“The private prison industry has negotiated a better reimbursement rate than counties who have taken on the responsibility. There would also be start-up costs,” said O’Connell at a news conference in September. “I wanted to be responsible, and we can now be responsible.”
O’Connell admits that in Metro’s current financial state the city could not afford to run all the prisons, nor is there time since the contract is up in three months, but he questions the moral cost of treating prisons like profit centers.
The current contract with Brentwood-based CoreCivic, the company operating the Metro Nashville-Davidson County Detention Center, expires in January 2020.
CoreCivic issued a statement about the company's work operating the facility.
"We are proud of our 27 year partnership at the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility and the extensive evidence-based reentry programming we provide to the inmates in our care. Examples of programs offered at Metro include Go Further, Men of Valor (faith-based ministry), victim impact, anger management, alcoholics and narcotics anonymous, Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP), Healing Journeys (faith based), Second Chances dog socialization program, cosmetology, parenting, Paws Greyhound training program, Life Principles (faith based), Unlock your Thinking, Motivated for Change, Sending Musicians to Prison, Wheel for the World, Adult Basic Education, Computer classes, My Song for Life, Lee Company HVAC program and financial management.
"We look forward to continuing to work with Metro officials and to providing high-quality services at a savings for taxpayers in our community."