EVANSTON — Uinta County officials have endorsed a private company’s proposal to build a for-profit immigration jail near Evanston.
Both Evanston’s city council and Uinta County’s commission unanimously passed resolutions in June to support the Management Training Corporation’s plan to build and manage an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center just outside Evanston city limits. The jail would have the capacity to hold 500 undocumented immigrants detained by ICE while they await court hearings in Salt Lake City.
Uinta officials are uncertain whether they need Wyoming’s five statewide elected officials to approve the project. It is possible a jail holding immigration detainees does not require the same level of approval as other forms of private prisons regulated under Wyoming law, a county official said. Either way, MTC’s efforts to jail immigration detainees from throughout the northern rockies in Uinta County have thus far gone largely without notice in the state at large.
The private jail would be similar to an MTC-operated ICE detention facility in Southern California, said Mike Murphy, MTC’s vice president of corrections marketing, just north of the border with Mexico...
Before that can happen, however, local governments must receive the consent of the state’s five elected officials. Today, that means Gov. Matt Mead, State Treasurer Mark Gordon, State Auditor Cynthia Cloud, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow and Secretary of State Ed Murray.
Gov. Matt Mead was not aware of the private jail proposed in Uinta County, nor was his staff, said public relations officer Chris McGhee. “We are excited to learn more and look further into it,” McGhee said. Secretary of State Ed Murray was aware of the project because of Uinta County news reports, spokesperson Will Dinneen wrote in an email to WyoFile.
Though the resolutions supporting the endeavor passed in June, Uinta County staff has not reached out to the five officials, County Attorney Loretta Howieson said. They’re waiting to see if MTC can secure the job from ICE first and what a contract or lease would entail.
A photo of an MTC-operated ICE detention facility in Southern California. MTC vice president for corrections marketing Mike Murphy pointed to the California facility, which can hold approximately 750 detainees, as an example of what Uinta County could expect. COURTESY PHOTO/David Schacher/David Schacher Photography, LLC