House approves amendment to allow privatization, but not sale, of state prison

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Louisiana House Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, the sponsor of HB 850, which would privatize Avoyelles Correctional Center, today introduced an amendment that would prohibit the sale of the facility to a private operator and limit any private management contract to ten years. The House voted 62-43 to adopt Burns' amendment but deferred, for today, any further votes on the bill.

The bill's original language — which passed the House Appropriations Committee last week in a 13-11 vote — called for a sale and a 30-year management contract.

Another amendment by Rep. Ken Havard, R-Jackson, also introduced today, would ban any management contract that requires a minimum population at Avoyelles if it's handed over to a private operator. A request for information on the sale of state-owned prisons last year called for responses to base guaranteed state per diem payment estimates to be based on a 96 percent occupancy.

A response from Nashville, Tenn.-based operator the Corrections Corporation of America went further, calling for a minimum occupancy guarantee from the state.

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