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Archive for Tuesday, April 27, 1999

FOUR CITIES IN RUNNING AS SITE FOR DETENTION CENTER

April 27, 1999

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Baldwin and Lawrence apparently are not in the running for the center, which would temporarily house federal prisoners.

Perry, Tonganoxie, Bonner Springs and Kansas City all are being considered as possible sites for a $10 million federal detention center that would temporarily house prisoners.

Baldwin, which also was scouted as a possible site, apparently is out of the running, according to a representative of an Austin, Tex., firm looking for a home for the proposed 450-bed facility.

Baldwin City Administrator Larry Paine last week told Baldwin's city council that Cornell Corrections Inc. of Houston was considering the southern Douglas County community for the center.

But a representative of the Austin-based general contracting firm that has been scouting sites for Cornell said he didn't find any appropriate Baldwin sites.

He also said he scouted Lawrence as a possible site, but Lawrence was not submitted to Cornell as a recommended location.

The representative declined to be identified.

The center, which would temporarily house either federal defendants during trial or convicts awaiting placement in the prison system, could wind up anywhere between Topeka and Kansas City.

Cornell Corrections, which would operate the center on contract to the U.S. Marshal's Service, has begun its search for a site even before a formal request for proposals has been issued.

Tom Rathjen, managing director of development at Cornell, said Monday that suitable sites had been identified in Perry, Tonganoxie, Bonner Springs and Kansas City. He declined to be more specific.

"The No. 1 criteria is good community support," he said. "If we don't have that, we just go elsewhere."

Besides support, the ideal site would be about 40 acres in a fairly isolated area where there's a need for jobs, Rathjen said.

The northeast Kansas center would create about 125 jobs. Because it would be privately owned, it also could raise a big chunk of tax revenue for whatever city lands it.

Because it's a temporary holding facility, visitors would not be allowed at the center -- a fact that could relieve some fears.

Cornell operates about 55 correctional facilities coast to coast, including prisons, detention centers, halfway houses and juvenile centers. They have a total capacity of nearly 13,000 prisoners.

The company, whose stock trades publicly on the New York Stock Exchange, had 1998 net income of $6.1 million on revenues of $123.1 million.

-- Richard Brack's phone message number is 832-7194. His e-mail address is rbrack@ljworld.com.

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