How can both Lowndes and Decatur Counties think they’re getting a private prison?

Because it’s not the same prison.

As we’ve seen, the Bainbridge-Decatur County Development Authority thinks it’s getting a private prison from CCA, and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA) thinks it’s got the primary site by contract.

Carol Heard explained in The Post-Searchlight on 20 August 2010 how that could be, in Building of prison is good bet:

Jay Hollis, project manager of site acquisition for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), said the company goes to great lengths to be pre-emptive and be more competitive.

“We don’t go enter into agreements with a lot of different communities just on the outside chance that something will pop up,” Hollis said in an interview with The Post-Searchlight Wednesday. “When we go in sort of pre-emptively to get to this point, it’s because we really believe that we’re going to use that site.”

OK, that doesn’t quite explain it. But this does:
“This is a project that came about because we knew, and we continue to know, that there will be demand at the state and federal level,” Hollis said.

In July, the Development Authority agreed to a memorandum of understanding with CCA that the company based in Nashville, Tenn., would submit bids to either state and/or federal correctional entities that would contract with the company to build a prison on 110 acres at the Decatur County Industrial Park.

He hedged the odds a bit by saying he can’t guarantee that something will be in the works prior to the memorandum of understanding’s time frame, “but we certainly believe that the demand will be there and that we will put this site to good use.”

Decatur County was one of two finalists out of at least 33 prospective sites the CCA looked at in three states for the proposed prison site. The other finalist is Valdosta, Ga.

As it turns out, both Valdosta and Bainbridge are sites that are poised to get a prison. Which site receives a bid for a federal prison and which one gets a bid for a state prison, as well as which prison would be constructed first, is still up in the air, Hollis said.

“We decided, pretty early on that, based on the demand that we believe is upcoming, that we really need two sites, because we can utilize two sites. We expect one to be federal and one to be state. We don’t know what order those will come in,” Hollis said.

So VLCIA may have put a clause in about having the primary site, but that apparently doesn’t matter to CCA, because it plans to build two prisons.

The story continues in later posts.


PS: Carol Heard also remarked:

Hollis was also a guest of a Bainbridge-Decatur County Development Authority dinner Wednesday evening that included members of the City Council, County Board of Commissioners and Development Authority board members.
Cooperation among all of the Development Authority, the City Council, and the County Commission! If that sort of thing goes on in Lowndes County, it doesn’t get reported in the newspaper.