Some members of Nashville’s Metro Council say they’re ready to end a contract with private prison operator CoreCivic.
Such a move could cost the city millions annually — and the proposal is arriving amid an urgent budget crisis — but Councilwoman Emily Benedict said it is a moral decision.
“These companies will cut every corner in the name of shareholder value,” she wrote Tuesday. “How many corners will they cut in the humane treatment of our prisoners to make their balance sheet look good? Financially, and morally, what is the price that every Nashvillian pays?”
Benedict said she’ll file legislation to end the contract Dec. 2, and said Nashville could become a leader in “putting people ahead of profiteers.”
But prison reform advocates have sought this change for years, often criticizing CoreCivic for what they say is a dangerous and profit-maximizing management approach.
“We’re going to stand together and make sure our folks get rehabilitated and that we remember that our people are not disposable,” said Martaze Gaines, board president of Black Lives Matter Nashville, at a rally outside of the Metro Council chambers on Tuesday.
At least 18 council members stood alongside members of the local anti-CoreCivic coalition that goes by the name “Rotten To The Core.”
CoreCivic, which is headquartered locally, has had a contract to run the state prison known as the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility in South Nashville for 27 years. In a statement, the company says it wants to continue its “extensive evidence-based reentry programming,” and notes its operations cost taxpayers less money than alternatives.