Metro Council members announce legislation that would end contract with CoreCivic

Posted at 1:28 PM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 19:42:12-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Two Metro Council members have announced legislation that would end Nashville’s contract with CoreCivic.

Council members Emily Benedict (District 7) and Freddie O’Connell (District 19) are sponsoring the legislation.

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:

“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 release from O'Connell and Benedict says the CoreCivic contract is with the city but funded by the Tennessee Department of Corrections and pays for incarceration of locally sentenced state inmates serving sentences between one to six years.

"Our Sheriff is ready to take on this responsibility, and I believe he will do it much better than this billion-dollar corporation,” Benedict said in part.

In response, Amanda Gilchrist, Director of Public Affairs for CoreCivic, released the following statement:

Once again, it appears that some members of the Metro Nashville council are pushing an agenda that’s free of facts and ideologically driven. This proposed action would not only result in millions of dollars in increased liabilities to the Metro budget and taxpayers, but it would also potentially jeopardize the life-changing reentry programming currently delivered to those in our care.
Additionally, Councilmembers Benedict and O’Connell are being dishonest about our company. Contrary to statements in their press release, under longstanding policy, CoreCivic does not draft, lobby for, promote or in any way take a position on proposals, policies or legislation that determine the basis or duration of an individual’s incarceration. In fact, CoreCivic has been an outspoken advocate for numerous criminal justice reform initiatives, including the federal First Step Act, which has resulted in thousands of prisoner releases.

Metro Council will vote on the bill July 7.