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Private prison in McRae will close and lay off 252 people

The Georgia Department of Corrections is buying the federal prison for $130 million, but so far hasn't disclosed its plans.

MCRAE-HELENA, Ga. — More than 250 people will lose jobs next month when a federal prison in Telfair County closes.

The McRae Correctional Facility is owned by a Nashville-based private company, CoreCivic.

Steve Owen, a CoreCivic vice president, said it's closing because their contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons expires November 30.

Last year, the federal agency said they planned to phase out private prisons.

Owen says that's why CoreCivic agreed to sell McRae to the Georgia Department of Corrections for $130 million. Telfair County tax records say the prison site is worth about $48 million.

So far, the state prison system hasn't announced their plans for the 69-acre site.

Owen says McRae houses non-citizens who've been convicted of federal crimes and face deportation after release.

It was built to house nearly 2,000 inmates.

According to the company's website, it houses around 530 prisoners; barely a quarter of capacity.

The Georgia Department of Labor posted a layoff notice to its website this week reporting that 252 prison employees will lose jobs on November 30.

Owen says the company hopes those people will get jobs with the state prison system or at other CoreCivic facilities. The company will try to help place the rest, he said.

McRae Correctional Facility is about 4.5 miles from Telfair State Prison, which has a capacity of about 1,400.

13WMAZ reached out to the state prison system about their plans for McRae. They've not responded.

However earlier this year, the state announced plans to replace some of its older prisons with new ones.

Georgia also faces a Federal Department of Justice investigation over conditions in its prisons. 

Federal officials say overcrowding and understaffing is causing violence and dozens of homicides in Georgia prisons.


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