Limestone County: Private Prison Operator Says Contract Still In Effect

LIMESTONE COUNTY (July 22, 2013)—Management Training Corporation, the Utah-based company with which Limestone County contracted to operate the now empty 1,000-bed county owned Limestone County Detention Center, said Monday its contract with the county is still in effect, contradicting what a spokesman said last week.

MTC, which under an agreement with the county is supposed to pay a minimum of $62,500 a month to rent the complex, said on July 15 it was closing the center, laying off 130 employees, pulling out, and discontinuing its contract.

But in an e-mail Monday, Issa Arnita, the company’s director of corporate communications, said the contract remains in place.

“We’re working together (with the county) to look at other options to market the facility for other customers as soon as possible,” the e-mal said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement decided to stop sending suspected illegal immigrants detained at the border to the center, opting instead to return them to their home countries, Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen said.

As a result, the last prisoners were removed on July 12 from the privately-run detention center and on July 16, the center’s 130 employees picked up what they were told were their final paychecks.

The loss of the jobs is a financial blow to the county and the loss of the payments from MTC, which accounted for about 5 percent of the county’s annual revenue, could impact the new budget officials are now drafting, Burkeen said earlier.

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