U.S. to end private prison contracts; impact on Hamilton County facility unknown

A portion of the main exercise yard and a detention ward are seen Tuesday, June 30, 2015, at Silverdale Correctional Facility in Chattanooga, Tenn.

CCA prisons in Tennessee and Georgia

TennesseeHardeman County Corectional Center and Whitevill Correctional Facility, WhitevilleLuzerne 2 Residential Center, PhiladelphiaMetro-Davidson County Detention Center, NashvilleSilverdale Detention Facility, ChattanoogaSouth Central Correctional Center, CliftonTrousdale Turner Correction Center, HartsvilleWest Tennessee Detention Facilities, MasonGeorgiaWheeler Correctional Center, AlamoStewart Detention Center, LumpkinMcRae Correctional Facility, McRaeJenkins Correctional Center, MillenCoffee Correctional Facility, MichollsSource: CCA website

Hamilton County officials say they'll have to wait and see whether the U.S. Department of Justice's decision to phase out use of private prisons will affect the county's contracts to house federal prisoners at its privately managed Silverdale facility.

A federal official announced the decision Thursday, saying an audit showed private facilities have more safety and security problems than the government-run prisons, The Associated Press reported.

"Private prisons served an important role during a difficult period, but time has shown that they compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities," Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates wrote in a memo to the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.