YOUNGSTOWN — The U.S. Marshals may continue housing federal inmates at Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, despite a January order from President Joe Biden ending the federal justice department's use of private prisons.
Mahoning County commissioners during their Thursday morning meeting approved such an agreement with CoreCivic, which operates the Hubbard Road penitentiary and is one of the nation's largest for-profit prison operators.
Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene told commissioners Thursday's "pass-through" agreement allows the U.S. Marshals to pay his office a fee which it would ultimately pass on to CoreCivic to house the inmates.
The prison would charge about $135 per day for each inmate. The Mahoning County Sheriff's Office would keep 2.2 percent of that, or about $3 for each inmate and pass the remainder on to the prison.
Depending on inmate population — which fluctuates according to a variety of factors — the agreement would put between $560,000 and $700,000 per year into the county's justice fund, Greene said.
The county's justice fund also gets supplemental revenue, between $1 million and $2 million per year, through the county's agreement to house federal inmates at the Mahoning County jail, the sheriff said. As of Thursday, there were about 100 federal inmates in the county lockup. The county charges $125 per day for each, he said.
A majority of the inmates detained at NEOCC by the Marshals are from northeast Ohio. Many come from surrounding states.
The Marshals' contract with NEOCC was "very lucrative," Greene said. Keeping that connection likely saved 100 jobs, possibly more, at the Hubbard Road prison, Greene estimated.
"The biggest benefit to this is it was basically saving jobs in the city of Youngstown," he said. "It's better for Mahoning County and it also worked out big time for the U.S. Marshals Service.
"They're 100-percent responsible for housing federal inmates," he said, adding in response to Biden's order, county justice officials were considering relying on out-of-state prisons. "It affects the judicial system, it affects how their attorneys see them and basically everything in the case."
They even considered leasing one wing of NEOCC to alleviate the transportation burden, but that deal fell through, Greene said.
The agreement will start at the end of the month, said Tony Grande, CoreCivic executive vice president.
Just days after taking office, President Biden signed orders instructing the U.S. Justice Department not to renew its contracts with private prisons, which flourished under contracts during former President Donald Trump's administration, according to the Associated Press.
“This is a first step to stop corporations from profiting off of incarceration,” Biden said.
The more than 14,000 federal inmates housed at privately-managed facilities represent a fraction of the nearly 152,000 federal inmates currently incarcerated, the AP reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.