Torrance County to reopen detention center

The Torrance County Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to reopen the county detention center to more than 700 detained migrants and local inmates.

County Manager Wayne Johnson announced in a news release that the jail is being reopened in an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement that will provide the county with 240 jobs and space to house Torrance County inmates.

“We welcome CoreCivic back to Torrance County, and are excited about partnering with them to provide jobs and essential public safety to our residents,” Commission Chairman Ryan Schwebach said in the release.

The contract allows for up to 714 adult male immigrants to be housed at the facility, no unaccompanied minors or families, and calls for ICE to pay nearly $2 million per month for use of the prison in its first year. The price will increase in future years.

The county would then sign a separate contract with a prominent private prison operator, CoreCivic, to operate the facility and hire staff.

According to the release, now that the contract has been signed, CoreCivic will move forward with hiring and training.

“Officials from CoreCivic indicated that they will begin their 90- to 120-day ramp-up to full staffing almost immediately,” the release states.

The October 2017 closure of the Torrance County prison due to a persistently small inmate population was an economic blow to the rural area since the prison was one of Estancia’s largest employers. The closure was also a hit to the county’s tax base, Johnson said.

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