Mothballed Boys Ranch could become federal prison

A mothballed juvenile detention facility gathering weeds in the county’s rustic south could be Sacramento’s entry into the private prison business.

County officials are entertaining an offer from GEO Community Services LLC, an arm of GEO Group Inc., which manages or owns 114 correctional and detention facilities around the world. GEO wants to lease a 140-acre site in Sloughhouse and turn the property into a residential reentry center for federal inmates serving out the final year of their sentences. The contract could be worth as much as $15 million if the county entertains the 30-year life of the lease.

Before budget cuts forced its closure in 2010, the county operated the Boys Ranch for delinquent youth at that spot. The county rejected a similar lease attempt three years ago because it still held hopes of reopening the site as a juvenile detention facility. That’s no longer believed feasible, says a county staff report.

According to the report, Sacramento is “the only large metropolis” in the country without a reentry facility. GEO owns 10 percent of this market, running 20 facilities, 12 of which are managed by the federal Bureau of Prisons, as the local one would be.

Several nearby landowners have objected to the proposal.

The county also entertained a proposal from Corrections Corporation of America, another private prison company, before staff selected GMO’s. According to online meeting minutes, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors took no action during its November 12 hearing on the GMO proposal.

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