ESTANCIA, N.M. (AP) — Officials are considering reopening a private prison in New Mexico to hold immigrants being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Torrance County commissioners are set to vote Wednesday on whether to sign an agreement with ICE to open the rural county detention facility owned by a Nashville, Tennessee-based private prison operator CoreCivic, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
The prison southeast of Albuquerque closed in October 2017 because of a consistently low number of inmates, county manager Wayne Johnson said. The prison was a large employer for Estancia, so its closure was a blow to the area's economy and the county's tax base, he said.
"Having that 900-bed facility stand empty didn't make sense for anyone involved," Johnson said.
County officials expect the reopened prison to provide more than 200 jobs and house over 700 immigrant detainees as well as some local inmates.
Under the proposed contract, the federal agency would pay the county nearly $2 million per month during the first year of prison use. The price would increase in future years.
ICE would pay a fixed rate for up to 714 immigrant detainees, according to the proposed contract. It would pay extra for each additional person housed in the facility.
The county would then sign a separate agreement with CoreCivic for it to run the facility and hire staff.
The facility would only house men, and the immigrant detainees would be housed separately from other inmates, Johnson said.