NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — CoreCivic officials notified city and county leaders of their plan to end the company's relationship with Nashville.
President and CEO Damon Hininger sent a scathing letter to Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall as well as Nashville Mayor John Cooper and multiple city council members.
"We can not allow our company, more importantly, our employees to be used as a punching bag by political opportunists," the letter read.
City leaders have been discussing the possibility of walking away from the city's contract with CoreCivic for months. Recently, Council members Freddie O'Connell and Emily Benedict said they were renewing their efforts to create legislation ending the contract to run the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility in South Nashville.
According to a release, the legislation was prompted after Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall told Metro Council members that the sheriff’s office could take on housing those prisoners with no additional cost to taxpayers.
Sheriff Hall later released the following statement in response to the proposed legislation:
“I have always said if the city wants the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) to assume operation of the Metro Detention Center in an effort to end privatization of this prison, that could happen under two conditions:
1.) DCSO has the money to operate it effectively and,
2.) enough time to ensure a proper transition.
After several discussions with the state of Tennessee, I am confident the budget impact to Metro government is minimal aside from a $5 million start-up cost. Additionally, under the proposed legislation, the date for the sheriff’s office to begin operation of MDF is July 2022; giving the DCSO an adequate transition period. It’s important to point out this change would be a philosophical one, not performance based. We have monitored this contract for more than 25 years and Core Civic has consistently met contractual requirements.”
The contract is set to end July 29, 2020. However, the company says it will provide a 90-day transition plan that would expire Oct. 4.
Councilman O'Connell released the following statement in response to the letter.
In announcing their attention to suddenly abandon operation of the Metro Detention Facility, CoreCivic has made plain that their priority is maintaining an active public relations campaign, not safely housing inmates and joining the important public conversation about decarcerating non-violent offenders and reducing recidivism.
Metro Council and other local leaders, on the other hand, will continue to press for reforms that both improve public safety and deliver an inclusive, equitable city moving away from mass incarceration.
Any Nashvillian can review CoreCivic’s history of political donations and decide for themselves whether those contributions were made in an effort to reduce the number of incarcerated Tennesseans.
Councilwoman Emily Benedict released the following statement:
“CoreCivic is clearly looking out for their own interest, ahead of the inmates and their employees. The whole reason why we need to take 9-12 months to transition is to take care of the inmates and their safety and to do our best to transition as many workers, guards and staff who would like to transition into civil service. I don’t want to lose a single employee that’s there unless it’s just the right decision for the employee or if they’ve just not been a good performer. This legislation is designed to make sure the inmates are kept completely safe with no disruption due to the transition. 90 days does not give us enough time. They seem to be more focused on burning a bridge, then they do on the safety of their inmates.”