CoreCivic Is Closing Torrance County Detention Center
Private prison operator CoreCivic Inc has announced that the company will be closing its 27-year-old detention center in the town of Estancia, New Mexico. Following the closure of Torrance County Detention Center by the end of September, all 203 employees working at the facility will be laid off. The county sheriff’s department is now looking for an alternative facility where the detainees can be moved to after the closure of CoreCivic’s detention center.
Earlier this month, CoreCivic laid off more than 500 employees at three of its facilities in three Texas counties. The Nashville, Tennessee-based company is a publicly-traded real estate investment trust (REIT), and is one of the largest operators of private prisons and detention centers in America.
The announcement of the closure and the layoffs has sent shockwaves across Torrance County. The prison’s employees account for about half of Estancia’s total population. Following the closure of the detention center, the town will not only lose hundreds of jobs, but will also lose tax revenue.
The warden of the facility, Chad Miller, had to appear in the Torrance County Commission Chambers to answer questions by town, county, state and congressional government representatives. According to the warden, the facility has been operating under capacity, which has caused it to suffer financial losses for the last four years. Consequently, it became inevitable that CoreCivic would shut down the facility.
Miller said that, for Torrance County Detention Center to stay profitable, it would need to hold at least 700 inmates. The detention facility has the capacity to accommodate 900 to 950 inmates. The number of inmates being housed, however, has drastically fallen below 700, making it financially difficult to operate.
The majority of the inmates at the facility were detainees held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). However, a drop in border arrests has led to a sharp decline in the facility’s occupants.
CoreCivic has given the option to the 203 Torrance County employees to move to other facilities owned by the company. However, only about a quarter of the employees have shown any interest in moving. If they choose to move, the town of Estancia will see a significant drop in its population.
“Detention center in Estancia closing, 203 employees to lose jobs,” Albuquerque Journal, July 25, 2017.