Gainesville City Council gave the go-ahead Thursday to fill more beds at the private detention facility in midtown Gainesville.
Corrections Corp. of America is seeking to modify its agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to allow it to begin housing people in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Council placed the item on its consent agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.
CCA representative Tommy Alsup, speaking to the council, said he thinks it’s been a “good year for CCA overall,” but that things could be better.
“We have 189 guests as of today, so we’d like to have a few more in there, so thus you have the modification that you’re looking at today,” Alsup said.
CCA thrives on being at capacity, which is not the case currently, Alsup said.
“That facility will hold about 502 beds, so obviously, in order to make this work, for CCA to keep this going, we need as close as to that (as possible), so we anticipate another 150, 200 U.S. Marshals’ folks coming into there,” he said.
Stays for those in custody of marshals would be more temporary than others at CCA, about an average of one week before moving to a federal prison, Alsup explained.
“These are folks that have committed a crime, and were apprehended by the U.S. Marshals Service in some portion in the country, and will be moving on to do their full sentence somewhere,” he said.
Since buying the facility a year ago, the city of Gainesville has been in a 14-year lease agreement with CCA, and council has to approve any changes in agencies the prison serves.
Currently, the facility houses people detained on immigration violations.
The Marshals Service is responsible for federal prisoners until they are acquitted or convicted and then delivered into the Federal Bureau of Prisons to serve their sentence.
“The federal government being the way they are, if they’re going to have another user, even though it’s a federal agency, we have got to agree to that as well,” City Manager Kip Padgett said.
Placing a hub in Gainesville is ideal for the Marshals Service because of the proximity to Atlanta, he said.
“Atlanta is obviously a major airport ... and then they are flown out of Atlanta to their ultimate destination, which could be anywhere in the country,” he said.
The Marshals Service, not CCA, will handle all transportation and related costs, Alsup said.
The agreement to share the facility is set to expire after one year, Padgett said.
“If this works out and they want to renew it again, it would be another renewal, and we would see you about this time next year if that’s the case,” Alsup said.