Critics question CCA jail operation idea

Staff File Photo by Tim BarberA Corrections Corporation of America officer mans his post at Silverdale.
photo Staff File Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free PressA Hamilton County Jail inmate makes a phone call from inside the maximum security area.

A consulting firm will have to determine whether Corrections Corporation of America can run Hamilton County's jail more cheaply than local government.

But foes of private prisons and human rights groups have more concerns about whether the private company can do so safely.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger announced last week the county is looking into having CCA take over all of the county's jailing business. The company has run the county's Silverdale facility, which houses pretrial, nonviolent inmates and women, since 1984. Coppinger plans to ask county commissioners to hire PFM, a consulting firm, to study the costs and benefits of selling Silverdale to CCA and contracting with it to build and operate a new jail.