Federal prison plan appears dead

Research of proposal finds several obstacles, including proximity to federal courthouse

KINGMAN - Mohave County Supervisors will get a second look at a proposal to build a federal prison from Management and Training Corporation during their regular Board meeting at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

The meeting will be held in the County complex on E. Beale Street.

Representatives from MTC proposed at the Board's March 19 meeting that the county and MTC form a partnership to build a federal prison in the county.

One of three suggestions for the proposed federal facility would have the county and MTC adding an additional 1,000 beds to the current plans for the new county jail.

During the March 19 meeting, Board Chairman Pete Byers said he was unsure of the proposal and wanted more information. He voted to have the county staff research the item more.

Staff will present their findings Monday. A letter from the county's Department of Procurement to the Board states that the first two suggestions from MTC are not proper at this time. Those suggestions would both add an additional 1,000 beds to the current plans for the new county jail.

The department said that even if the Board is interested in the idea, the county, by law, would still have to go through a competitive bid process to make sure that other contractors got a fair chance at winning the contract. To do otherwise might open the county or the company up to civil or criminal lawsuits.

The county can avoid the bid process only if it is purchasing a unique product or service from a sole source provider.

In a second letter to the Board, the Department of Procurement said it sent out a request for information to four private prison companies, including MTC, to gather research on the issue. It also contacted the Federal Procurement Executive and the U.S. Marshal's Office in Nevada.

The response from the Department of Procurement advised the county a prison facility would have to be located within 75 miles of a federal courthouse. The nearest federal court is in Las Vegas, well outside that limit.

The federal procurement office also said it would not be accepting bids that included multiple sites from contractors.

The County Department of Procurement suggested that if the Board was interested in partnering with a company to build a federal prison that it advertise that fact to all the contractors competing for the federal contract and therefore get the best deal.

County Manager Ron Walker agreed with the County Department of Procurement.

He said if the Board wanted to partner with MTC, the only viable option offered by the company would be to build an entirely separate federal facility in Mohave County. To add onto the proposed new county jail could violate the state's procurement laws and would be unfair to any current contractor the county was working with on the new jail.

"It's [MTC's proposal] really running at the very margins of whether we could legally do so," Walker said.

He also said that the proposal presented to the Board did not have MTC's name on it or a signature from the company, in essence, it was not a legal document.

Walker also said he was wary of the county signing an exclusive agreement with MTC when another company might win the federal bid. The company that wins the bid might want to build the new federal facility in Mohave County but wouldn't be able to because the county had agreed to give only MTC the right.

However, if the Board asked him to, Walker said he would negotiate with MTC.