Sheriff: Taking Over CoreCivic Contract Could Cost More For Taxpayers

Posted at 4:15 PM, Jun 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-30 19:53:17-04

The Davidson County Sheriff's Office has decided to try to take over a private prison in 2020, but it could cost taxpayers.

According to Sheriff Daron Hall, a bid on CoreCivic, formerly the Corrections Corporation of America, detention center would likely be higher than what it costs for the private company to run the prison now. Currently, it costs about $18 million a year to operate the facility, but for the Sheriff's Office costs might be millions more.

"When we start off in a bid, the city and the state are going to have to understand, how we do it here in Nashville is probably going to raise the cost," said Sheriff Hall.

Metro Council asked the Sheriff to explore options to take over the facility following a scabies outbreak that impacted dozens of inmates and is suspected to have spread to some Metro employees at the Birch building. The rash then spread to many of those employees' family members. 

Deputies are paid more than CoreCivic detention staff, and the county provides better health benefits. That, coupled with other costs, such as differing policies and food services, would likely increase the yearly cost of operation of the facility significantly. Sheriff Hall says those increases could be a burden on the Metro Council.

"We've got to be careful because the voters expect us to be responsible," Hall said.

CoreCivic is a 1,300 bed facility that holds state prisoners. Hall said those inmates are paid for by the state. However, CoreCivic's cost per prisoner would be less than that of the Sheriff's Office. That means there could be a funding gap the Metro Council might have to fill.

"The money they're sending to [CoreCivic] today is not close to what it would take us to do it," said Hall. "So, who's going to pay the difference, is the state going to going to say, 'we so much don't want to manage our own inmate, here's your money.' Or is the county so willing to get rid of this situation, they're willing to pay more than the state is going to give us to handle the state's problem."

With all of these factors included, Hall said it's likely a finished bid will take about a year to complete. Without an abrupt disruption, a takeover of the facility would not be possibly until CoreCivic's contract ends at 2020.