In the desert near Eloy, more than 400 jobs could dry up.
"Most of them come from big families, and how else are they going to support their families? That's a big worry for me,” said Eloy resident Stephan Rodriguez.
That big worry stems from a memo by Corrections Corporation of America to its employees at the Eloy Detention Facility. The federal Bureau of Prisons told CCA that it’s not renewing its contract that expires on February 28th.
In the memo to employees, CCA said: "The BOP's decision was not reasonably foreseeable and is outside the control of CCA," and: "… it will be necessary to reduce the workforce at Eloy."
"That essentially leaves us staring at February 28th having an empty institution, and as a result of that we felt it was only fair and the right thing to do to give our employees advanced notice so that they could begin to make preparations,” said CCA spokesperson Steven Owen in a telephone conversation from Nashville, Tennessee .
CCA has a contract with the Bureau of Prisons to hold its non-citizen inmates, along with non-citizen detainees awaiting possible deportation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. With the Bureau not renewing its contract, CCA wants to know if ICE wants its own contract.
"One of those possibilities and a priority for us would obviously be to communicate with ICE officials to determine what their course of action is going to be with regard to the detainees they currently have at the facility,” Owen said.
ICE has about 800 detainees at Eloy. The Bureau of Prisons has about 480 inmates there. CCA's memo said: “Despite our best efforts over the past few days to find a way to help meet BOP's needs, we have now concluded that the BOP's decision is final and will not be reversed."
"This is definitely a priority to the company to try and secure a new contract as soon as possible,” Owen said.
A new contract could save hundreds of jobs, and keep hope for the Eloy community.
"It's going to affect them and right now, it's kind of hard to find other jobs,” Rodriguez said.
As of deadline on Thursday, BOP was not able to say why it is not renewing the contract. CCA said that it was told this was for budgetary reasons and not any performance issue. Owen also said that CCA will help employees to find other jobs within the company, or elsewhere if they want. BOP has not said where it wants its prisoners transferred.
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