The operators of a private prison in Youngstown say they expect the United States Marshals Service will not renew a contract to house inmates once a current extension of the agreement expires in 90 days.

CoreCivic, Inc. announced this week that, effective March 1, 2021, it has entered into a 90-day contract extension with the Marshals Service at the Company's 2,016-bed Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown.

The USMS has notified the Company that it does not anticipate extending the contract following the 90-day extension, according to a news release.

CoreCivic says it is not currently aware of alternative locations where the USMS can house the approximately 800 federal detainees currently located at the Northeast Ohio facility.

President Biden recently issued an executive order directing the Department of Justice not to renew contracts with privately operated criminal detention facilities.

In issuing the order aimed at ending federal use of private prisons, President Biden called it a continuation of efforts started under the Obama administration and reversed under the Trump administration.

21 News reached out to CoreCivic seeking more information about what the loss of the government contract will mean to the future of NEOCC. 

A response from CoreCivic did not address the future of the prison or its employees. "We’re exploring opportunities to continue working with the USMS at NEOCC so they can provide safe, essential support to the federal justice system," said CoreCivic Public Affairs Director Amanda Gilchrist in an email.

CoreCivic operates prisons throughout the U.S., including the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, which has been in business since 1997 on Youngstown’s East Side.

With a staff of more than 300 employees, the medium-security facility’s customers include not only the U.S. Marshal’s Service but also the Ohio Department of Correction.

As of February 23, the inmate population was 843 according to information from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

Below is CoreCivic's response in its entirety:

We have entered into a 90-day contract extension with the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) at our Northeast Ohio Correctional Center (NEOCC) in Youngstown, Ohio, and we do not expect the contract to be renewed when the extension ends. For questions regarding next steps with the contract, we encourage you to reach out to the USMS. We’re exploring opportunities to continue working with the USMS at NEOCC so they can provide safe, essential support to the federal justice system.

The current system for caring for USMS detainees, which includes contractor-operated facilities, works well. At this time, there are no safe or logistically viable alternatives for the USMS. For example, local jails and state prisons aren’t subject to the same standards and oversight as contractor-operated facilities, which can result in dangerous conditions. (The Washington Post recently covered the real-world implications of this weak oversight in jails and prisons during the pandemic: In Cleveland, the USMS stopped using Cuyahoga County Jail after substandard conditions were found: Jails and prisons also can’t typically accommodate larger numbers of detainees, which results in serious logistical challenges for the USMS in tracking and transporting those in its custody, many of whom must regularly appear in court.

USMS detainees are in custody for a short period of time. Limiting the agency’s use of contractor-operated facilities won’t change any of the underlying factors that lead to a person’s detention or incarceration, but it will make it much harder for the USMS to deliver a fundamental public service.

I’ve included a fact sheet on our relationship with the USMS that provides more detail on our long-standing partnership. If you intend to include any specific information about CoreCivic not covered by our statement or fact sheet, please let me know so we can provide responsive information. There’s a significant amount of inaccurate information about our company and industry that we work hard to correct.

Amanda Gilchrist
Director, Public Affairs