NEWS HEADLINES

Utah company specializes in education programs

By Bob Buckel | Published Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Utah-based company that now manages both of Bridgeport’s correctional facilities has a reputation for training designed to equip soon-to-be released inmates to succeed outside the walls.

Management and Training Corporation (MTC) confirmed Monday that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) approved their taking over the Bridgeport Pre-Parole Transfer Facility effective Sept. 15, 2013.

The contract, which MTC took over from Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) extends through August 2017.

MTC has operated the Bridgeport Correctional Center, which houses male, minimum-security inmates, since September 2010. The Pre-Parole Transfer Facility is a women’s facility, but both house inmates who are typically within two years of parole eligibility or a release date.

The men’s facility, which is owned by the state, is licensed for 520 inmates. The women’s facility, which is still owned by CCA, is designed to house 200.

CCA opted out of Bridgeport after losing contracts to manage two other North Texas facilities – the 2,100-bed Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility and the Dawson State Jail in Dallas. Those units were shut down Aug. 31 due to cutbacks in the state’s corrections budget.

Jason Clark, public information director for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), said the decision to leave Bridgeport was CCA’s.

“I can’t speak for CCA on why they decided to assign the contract to MTC,” he said. “TDCJ did extend the option to continue operations at Bridgeport to CCA but they made a business decision to transfer responsibility to MTC.

“MTC will continue to fulfill the contract obligations and all parties are in agreement.”

MTC director of corporate communications Issa Arnita said the company had been in negotiations with TDCJ for about a month before the transfer was announced last week.

The takeover at Bridgeport brings to nine the number of correctional and treatment facilities MTC runs for the state of Texas.

Clark said in June that the state had about 10,000 excess beds in its prison system.

“The Legislature made clear their intent to reduce bed capacity, and we are moving forward to do that,” Clark told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

He said this week that MTC’s contract for the 200-bed female facility is $45 per day, per inmate.

“All contracts go through a competitive procurement process,” he said. “Generally private facilities are less expensive. They hold minimum custody offenders as opposed to state facilities which will hold higher custody offenders.”

Having escaped the budget knife, the two Bridgeport facilities will now share not just a management company, but a warden as well.

David McComis, who has been overseeing the men’s operation since MTC took it over in 2010, is warden for both locations now.

“We have a chief of security on both facilities and a captain that works in each facility,” he said. “I will split time between the two.”

He said the majority of the staff stayed on and MTC’s plan is to staff it with roughly the same number of people CCA was using.

“MTC really puts an emphasis on educational programs,” he said. “MTC’s reputation was built on programs and training. They had some good programs, but our corporate staff will come down and look at the programs and see what we’re going to be able to do there.

“We haven’t had a chance to look at it closely yet.”

McComis started his career at the Bridgeport men’s facility as a correctional officer in 1989 and worked his way up to deputy warden before leaving in 2000. He worked in various correctional facilities, including a stint as a warden in Arkansas, before returning to Texas to work as a warden in Fort Worth and Venus.

HEAVY ON EDUCATION

MTC’s roots are in the Job Corps business. After starting in 1981 to manage those programs for the federal government, the company is now the largest operator of those facilities in the U.S. They also operate 24 corrections facilities across the country – including the nine in Texas.

“We look forward to continuing to build strong relationships in the great state of Texas,” MTC Corrections Vice President Rich Gansheimer said. “Operating both Bridgeport facilities allows us to share some resources including finance and human resources.”

MTC Senior Vice President Odie Washington said the company “prides itself on performance and integrity. We will provide offenders at this facility with evidence-based programming that will help them become successful in society once released.

“Studies show that inmates who receive quality educational, vocational, and life skills courses are less likely to end up back in prison after they’re released.”

“We’re heavy on training,” Arnita said. “We have a lot of experience in education, vocational education, life skills. We’re big on rehabilitation through education.”

Arnita said “life skills” training can involve things like anger management, fatherhood and financial classes.

“Many inmates, when they do get out, they have no support system. They end up going back to families, back to where they were, and that ends up getting them in trouble again,” Arnita said.

“We’re all about giving them the education, whether it’s a GED or training in construction, welding – some type of career certification – so that when they get out they can be self-sufficient.”

MTC is a privately-held company based in Centerville, Utah. It is the third largest contractor of correctional facilities in the nation and the largest operator of the federal Job Corps program.

For more information on MTC, visit www.mtctrains.com.

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