Private prison operators in New Mexico said they will close one of its prisons because it doesn't have enough inmates to make a profit.
CoreCivic, the private prison company formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, announced it will close its Estancia, N.M. facility over the next two months. More than 200 people will lose their jobs as a result of the closing.
The prison was designed to hold between 900 and 950 inmates, but had been operating with fewer than 700. The majority of the prisoners in the facility are undocumented immigrants sent there by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But CoreCivic officials said fewer deportations and border arrests have made it difficult for the facility to be profitable, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
"The reality is that we've been operating at a loss for the last four years," said Warden Chad Miller of CoreCivic. "The question became for the company, 'How long can you run something that's not profitable? At what point do you say enough is enough?'"
The Santa Few New Mexican reported that the prison closing will have a serious impact on the local community. Not only will more than 200 jobs be eliminated in a town of 1,500 residents, but Estancia doesn't have its own jail and will have to find a new location to imprison the 40 to 75 inmates it had been sending to the CoreCivic facility.
The private prison closing is expected to cost the city $700,000 per year, including $170,000 per year in utility payments from the prison. He city also expects to lose $300,000 in tax revenue, which accounts for about 60 percent of its gross tax receipts.
"This is a big issue for us," said Torrance County Manager Belinda Garland. "It's going to affect Torrance County in a big way."
"The city of Estancia and the surrounding community have been a great partner to CoreCivic for the last 27 years," said Jonathan Burns, a spokesman for CoreCivic, in a statement. "Unfortunately, a declining detainee population in general has forced us to make difficult decisions in order to maximize utilization of our resources."
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