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MAC gets 30-day contract extension

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Marion Adjustment Center has received a 30-day contract extension from the Department of Corrections.

Jennifer Brislin, communications director for the Cabinet for Justice and Public Safety, confirmed that the temporary extension has been accepted by both the state and the prison.

That means the contract will not end Sunday with the end of the fiscal year, but rather on July 30.


Local push to save prison

Tuesday afternoon, the Kentucky Cabinet for Justice and Public Safety announced the state would not be renewing its contract with Marion Adjustment Center, a private prison located in St. Mary.

Wednesday evening, MAC employees, officials with Corrections Corporation of America (MAC’s parent company) and local officials and citizens gathered at Henning’s Restaurant to discuss ways to combat the state’s decision.

“It’s news that we’re not yet ready to accept,” said Steven Conry, CCA vice president for facility operations, business unit 3.

While CCA officials were disappointed about the decision, they were also surprised. Conry said they had been expecting to announce a contract renewal this week, but they learned of the state’s decision just hours before it was announced publicly.

“We asked for a 24-hour reprieve to break the news to our staff,” Conry said.

That didn’t happen, and for that, Conry apologized that CCA wasn’t able to share the news “in an appropriate fashion.”

Nevertheless, CCA and MAC officials are holding out hope that they might still convince state officials to reverse its decision. To that end, they urged everyone at yesterday’s meeting to call and email state officials, including Gov. Steve Beshear, to let them know what MAC and its 166 employees mean to Marion County.

CCA officials prepared a packet of information about MAC’s impact on the community.

Between Jan. 1 and June 24, 2013, MAC prisoners have provided 3,432 hours of labor in the community, including 2,622 hours for the Kentucky Department of Transportation. The estimated cost savings of that labor is $34,013.50. *

Between August 2012 and May 2013, MAC spent more than $1.76 million in Marion County. (In the interest of full disclosure, this includes $32,496.89 MAC spent with The Lebanon Enterprise for advertising.)

 

‘Cost savings’

As of June 26, MAC was housing 807 state prisoners. As part of Tuesday’s announcement, state officials said they will be transferring those prisoners to facilities run by the Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC), county jails and halfway houses within 120 days of the end of its current contract with MAC.

State officials added that the need for fewer prison beds was the result of early release policies implemented because of House Bill 463, which was approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Beshear in 2011.

In a press release, Cabinet for Justice and Public Safety officials argued that the state will save between $1.5 and $2.5 million annually by ending its contract with MAC and by housing its prisoners elsewhere.

MAC officials dispute those claims, however.

According to the 2012 “cost to incarcerate” figures (available through the DOC website), the state is paying MAC $37.99 per day for each minimum security inmate and $47.98 per day for each medium security inmate. That is more than the $31.34 the state pays daily for each prisoner housed in county jails, although it’s worth noting that the state pays $40.34 per day to county jails for each inmate who is participating in a substance abuse program.

At the same time, the cost to house prisoners at MAC is lower than the daily expense to house prisoners at 10 of the 12 state-run correctional facilities.

Here are those daily costs per inmate per day, according to information on the DOC’s website:

- Blackburn Correctional Complex, $52.94

- Bell County Forestry Camp, $39.55

- Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex, $44.96

- Green River Correctional Complex, $51.32

- Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women, $76.07

- Kentucky State Penitentiary, $73.14

- Kentucky State Reformatory, $81.02

- Luther Luckett Correctional Complex, $51.52

- Little Sandy Correctional Complex, $50.53

- Northpoint Training Center, $82.16

- Roederer Correctional Complex, $51.31

- Western Kentucky Correctional Complex, $67.15

CCA officials reiterated that they had a difficult time winning a contract renewal last year, but did so with assistance from State Senator Jimmy Higdon and State Representative Terry Mills.

This year, CCA officials said they thought negotiations were going well, and they expected to receive another new contract right up until Tuesday afternoon.

“I really feel like we did everything we could,” said Jerry Lankford, CCA’s senior director of partnership relations. “And I think we had a fast one pulled on us.”

 

* MAC savings estimates were based on paying employees the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to perform work for local projects and $12 per hour savings compared to using a transportation worker.