Private Prison Company Lobbies Vermont Officials to Build Proposed Facility | Off Message

Private Prison Company Lobbies Vermont Officials to Build Proposed Facility

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Lee Adjustment Center in Kentucky, where Corrections Corporation of America housed Vermont inmates - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Lee Adjustment Center in Kentucky, where Corrections Corporation of America housed Vermont inmates
Private prison company CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, is already angling to build the 925-bed prison that Gov. Phil Scott’s administration proposed Monday.

The company, which rebranded in 2016, is one of the country’s largest private prison operators. For a decade, it housed several hundred Vermont inmates in Kentucky and Arizona.

Under the Scott administration’s proposal, Vermont would contract with a private company to construct a $140 million prison in Franklin County over a 10-year period, which the state would then operate. The vision is far from becoming a reality. Lawmakers only started reviewing the concept Tuesday.

In an apparent effort to position itself for that contract, CoreCivic lobbyists are making overtures to key state lawmakers. The company has four employees registered to lobby in the state and is also represented by the Vermont lobbying firm MMR.

Its outreach isn’t going over well in some quarters of the Statehouse.

Calling CoreCivic a “notorious company" that has done "plenty of damage," Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) told reporters Tuesday that its potential involvement “will merit a lot of discussion.” Ashe said he personally had not been contacted by the lobbyists.

The company’s public-private partnership with the state, which ended in 2015, became increasingly controversial, particularly after several violent episodes took place in CCA prisons.

CoreCivic donated $1,000 to Scott’s campaign ahead of his 2016 election.

In a emailed statement to Seven Days, company public affairs director Jonathan Burns emphasized that, "CoreCivic would not be operating any facility in Vermont. We welcome a discussion with Vermont policy makers on a privately financed real estate-only solution."

Disclosure: Tim Ashe is the domestic partner of Seven Days publisher and coeditor Paula Routly. Find our conflict-of-interest policy here: sevendaysvt.com/disclosure.

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