Response to former Sen. Larry Jent's letter regarding the private prison in Shelby. The Montana Legislative Audit Division performed an extensive audit of Core Civic's performance as related to their contract with the State of Montana last year. The audit is available at: leg.mt.gov/content/Publications/Audit/Report/15P-03.pdf. The audit found three minor recommendations, and these were corrected immediately. Unfortunately, Mr. Jent doesn't reference that audit.
As the audit chairman during this audit, I am well aware of the process used and the completeness of the audit. I also chair the appropriations subcommittee in the House of Representatives that is responsible for the Department of Corrections budget, and have been on this committee for four sessions, so have closely watched Core Civic, owner/operator of the prison in Shelby. Mr. Jent also fails to acknowledge that the 20-year contract ends in two years, but can be extended by agreement for five years, and again for an additional five years. When the contract was originally signed, the state opted to pay $9.14 per day, per inmate, to Core Civic, to be used should the state choose to purchase the prison at the end of the contract. This is the nearly $30 million that has accumulated over the past 18 years. Core Civic has no obligation to give this money back to the state; so, the offer by Core Civic to write a check to the state if it extends the contract is a reasonable business offer, nothing more. Gov. Bullock would be wise to accept the offer, and stop holding Montana’s most vulnerable citizens hostage by threatening to cut Health and Human Services by 10 percent.
House District 9