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Feds To Phase Out Use Of Private Prisons, Crossroads In Shelby Unaffected

Michael Cotter, former U.S. attorney for the district of Montana.
U.S. Department of Justice

The U.S. Justice Department announced this week it's phasing out its use of private prisons. The government’s directive will affect 13 privately run prisons holding over 22,000 inmates.

Montana U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter tells MTPR its impact, while significant, will not be felt at north-central Montana’s Crossroads Correctional Center:

"It really won’t. It shouldn’t have any impact whatsoever," says Cotter.

Crossroads’ capacity is currently maxed out at 600 inmates. Most are state inmates, but as of yesterday, 95 were there courtesy of the federal government.

Federal inmates come and go to Crossroads and will continue to do so, despite the Justice Department’s directive earlier this week.

"The individuals held at Crossroads are federal prisoners who are pending trial, or those who are post-sentencing and pending assignment by the Bureau of Prisons to a federal facility," Cotter says.

In other words, Crossroads serves as a glorified holding tank for incoming and outgoing federal inmates.

Again, U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter:

"We don’t have in Montana a federal prison. So through the United States Marshall Service, they contract with, for example, Crossroads and lease beds for prisoners."

Crossroads’ owner, Corrections Corporation of America, declined our interview request, but in a written statement disputed the government’s assertion that private facilities have more safety and security problems than government prisons.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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