A 700-bed detention facility in McFarland has been chosen to house inmates in a lease agreement between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and a private prison contractor as a way to ease the state’s overcrowded prisons.
The five-year agreement with multinational company Geo Group means the Central Valley Modified Community Correctional Facility in McFarland will begin receiving state inmates as soon as next month.
Terms of the contract were not announced. However, the contract with the McFarland facility and a second GEO-owned 643-bed facility in Adelanto is expected to generate nearly $31 million in combined revenue for the company.
It was welcome news in McFarland, which has suffered chronically high unemployment, said Mayor Manuel Cantu.
“In essence, we’re glad to have the contract,” Cantu said. “It means more work. It means more employment.”
Cantu called GEO “a wonderful community member.”
John Wooner, McFarland’s city manager, said “low-level general population inmates” would be housed at the facility, and an estimated 145 correctional and administrative officers will be hired.
“It’s our hope most of them will be hired from McFarland,” he said.
The contract came several days prior to an expected decision by federal judges about whether to grant Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for a three-year delay in capping the state’s prison population.
Nearly 10,000 inmates have been ordered moved from state prisons by the end of this year.
According to its website, GEO is the world’s leading provider of correctional and detention services with about 73,000 beds in 96 facilities in the U.S., Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
The company previously signed a similar contract with the state at McFarland’s Golden State Medium Community Correctional Facility through 2016.
According to Wooner, similar community corrections facilities in Shafter and Taft will also be used to house inmates. He said he expected that decision by the end of this week.