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Private jail gets first detainees
Up to 500 to be held at Main Street facility
The first busload of detainees has arrived at the North Georgia Detention Center in Gainesville. Officials with Corrections Corporation of America, the private company leasing the old jail from Hall County, expect as many 500 detainees will be held at the facility. - photo by Tom Reed

The North Georgia Detention Center has boarded its first residents.

Federal immigration detainees arrived at the 500-bed privately run facility Thursday afternoon, said Louise Grant, Corrections Corporation of America spokeswoman. The detention center is on Main Street in midtown Gainesville at the site of the old Hall County Jail, which underwent extensive renovations and new construction in the past year.

CCA is leasing the facility from Hall County for $2 million a year. Citing security policies, Grant would not say how many detainees arrived or from where they were brought.

"I can confirm we do have our first detainees there," Grant said Friday. "We anticipate it being a steady population increase in the next short time period."

Grant said the total inmate population could be up to 500.

CCA officials initially said they expected the first detainees to arrive in mid-July.

Grant said the delay was because of the construction of a new office building at the site that will house Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, "as well as (ICE’s) own individual appropriations."

The detention center employs about 160 people, with most being local hires, according to CCA officials.

The company has estimated the annual payroll at $7.5 million.

According to contracts between Hall County, ICE and CCA, most of the detainees are expected to come from North Carolina, including Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County. All are being held on suspicion of being in the country illegally and are awaiting deportation proceedings.

The average stay for detainees is between 30 and 90 days.

CCA officials have said the facility will house low- and medium-security detainees but no high-security detainees.

The detention center is likely to house some immigration detainees from Hall County.

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