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County Should Be Tougher on Jail Contract

Recently, the Chronicle had an article on renewing the CoreCivic Contract with Citrus County and the willingness of the county to discount CoreCivic's inability to meet its contractual standards.

CoreCivic is a for-profit corporation that made $1.98 billion last year. Their net income was $188.89 million. They manage jails, prisons, and detention centers for the federal government, states, and local entities like Citrus County across the country. They don't need a 70% discount for failing to staff the jail correctly. They already make lots of money for their shareholders.

Under CoreCivic's management, two people have recently died in jail (2022). One was a suicide, but the other died of dehydration after four days in an isolation cell. I can't understand how a person being supervised can die of dehydration. According to Prison Legal News, there have been six deaths since 2021, and our detention center has one of the highest death rates in the nation.

The last contract with Citrus County was for approximately $16 million. Yet no county employee is directly supervising the contract. Watching the jail is an add-on to another person's duty. We need a full-time monitor to protect our and the inmates' interests.

Getting information about CoreCivic’s jail administration from the county is almost impossible. A friend asked for public information, and it took months to receive answers. That information should be forthcoming under Florida’s Sunshine rules, but it isn’t. He is still waiting for the county to answer his FOIA questions. It has been over four months already.

Any penalty that CoreCivic receives should not be discounted. CoreCivic made $189 million last reported. They can afford the fines. If they need more employees, they should pay more. The work is dangerous, but CoreCivic puts profits ahead of safety at the jail.

The last contract required CoreCivic to offer programs in wellness, outdoor recreation, law library, and general library use. The county has the capacity for 760 people, yet only a handful participate in these programs. According to our sources, the library is a bookshelf on wheels. Our sources can’t identify any place that is a law library. CoreCivic’s outreach to inmates to take drug rehabilitation classes, GED classes, etc., should be more robust. Only a handful of inmates participate in these endeavors.

The new contract should be reviewed with the goal of rehabilitation and not just punishment.

Thomas Mitchell


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