Louisiana corrections firm says it will operate treatment center in Hardin jail

2014-04-10T17:45:00Z 2014-06-18T17:06:37Z Louisiana corrections firm says it will operate treatment center in Hardin jailBy MIKE FERGUSON mferguson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A Louisiana corrections company plans a job fair April 16 at the Two Rivers Detention Facility in Hardin in an effort to find up to 115 employees to operate a therapeutic treatment center for Bureau of Indian Affairs inmates, beginning as early as May 15.

“That is an aggressive starting date,” David Revis, deputy chief of operations for Emerald Correctional Management, said Thursday.

Treatment would be provided at the detention facility itself, built in 2007 through the issuance of $27 million in revenue bonds.

The 464-bed facility has mainly sat empty since its construction, despite various high-profile attempts to attract a tenant.

Rivas said that during the job fair, the company will be looking for a range of people who can work at the facility in security, in supervisory roles, in maintenance and in a therapeutic community setting, such as social workers.

“We envision hiring most of the employees from the area,” Rivas said.

Emerald Companies, which includes Emerald Correctional Management and Emerald Healthcare Systems, is involved in the design, construction, management and health care services in a variety of correctional settings in four states — Louisiana, where the company is based, as well as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

According to the company’s website, the company contracts with four federal agencies as well as state corrections departments and a number of city and county jurisdictions.

A Montana Department of Corrections spokesperson said the company hasn’t contracted to provide services here.

“Our team is very experienced,” Rivas said, noting that the company manages a therapeutic treatment center in San Luis, Ariz. That facility houses inmates for the U.S. Marshal Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “I have been in this business for 40 years, and I work closely with a person with as much or more experience.”

“We expect the partnership with the community to be a smooth one,” Rivas said, “as we make more contacts with the community and with local law enforcement.”

Jeff McDowell, executive director of Two Rivers Authority, the tax-funded economic development agency for the city of Hardin, said he had no comment Thursday about the company’s plans, but said he’ll issue a statement later.

Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder said he won’t likely consider placing any county inmates at the Two Rivers Detention Facility “until they are up and running.”

“I don’t know where you will get your employees from,” Linder said of the firm’s plan for expansion in Hardin, “but I’m open to anything that will reduce our population.”

Linder said the Yellowstone County Detention Facility averages 430 inmates per day in a facility designed to hold 280. “We are working on a plan to make an addition to our jail to relieve some of the pressure and make for a safer environment,” Linder said.

He said he received a phone call from an Emerald Companies representative “wondering if we would farm inmates out to them, but that’s not a question I can answer off the cuff. There will have to be a lot of discussion, but I’ll keep an open mind.”

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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