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Fewer Inmates Housed At Higher Rate -- Sky Arnold

Updated: Monday, October 14 2013, 07:47 PM CDT
There's something missing inside the women's wing of the Metro Detention Facility in South Nashville and that something is inmates.

Sheriff Daron Hall says several initiatives are reducing the number of people arrested but the end result is bringing some unexpected criticism.

It's coming from a recent report on privatizing prisons by a group known as In the Public Interest.

The report is critical of contracts like the one Corrections Corporation of America has to run the Detention Facility.

Tennessee pays one rate per inmate if the women's wing is 90% full and a higher rate if it's not.

Since 2011 all those empty beds have cost taxpayers more than $487,000 in higher rates.

Metro Council Member and State Representative Darren Jernigan is among those who want to see changes made next year when the state negotiates a new contract.

"That seems like that money is going in the wrong direction," said Jernigan.  "What I think could've been done on this contract is use a tier approach where you have 30% inmates and pay on that scale, 60 %, 90% and have it go on that way."

Sheriff Hall says he's open to cost saving suggestions but he doesn't believe the CCA deal is unusual or a bad deal for taxpayers when it was signed.

 "As a taxpayer myself I'd love to find a way to reduce costs but the reality is the private provider is taking a risk to not know what the inmate number is gonna be and what they're gonna have to staff and hire," said Hall.

CCA spokesperson Steve Owen is critical of the In the Public Interest report.

He says it ignores the savings his company provides taxpayers.

A recent report from Temple University found CCA saved taxpayers 17% by running prisons according to OWen.

"At the end of the day we are competing with other providers who are also putting forth what they think is cost effective so we wanna put our best foot forward," said Owen.Fewer Inmates Housed At Higher Rate -- Sky Arnold

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