Rivers Correctional remains in operation

Published 9:18 am Saturday, June 26, 2010

WINTON – One of the local area’s largest employers will continue to do business in Winton.

The GEO Group, a worldwide company based in Boca Raton, Florida, has announced it has been awarded a contract by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for the continued management of the company-owned Rivers Correctional Institution (RCI) located in Winton.

RCI opened in 2001 and operated under an original 10-year contract with the Federal Bureau, which expires in March 2011. BOP is required to re-bid an operations contract every 10 years. The GEO Group submitted such a bid, as did another company seeking to build a prison on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

After several rounds of public hearings and assessments, the federal contract remains with the GEO Group.

According to company officials, the new contract will have a term of 10 years, inclusive of renewal options. Under the terms of the new contract, RCI will house up to 1,450 BOP inmates. At the 90 percent occupancy guaranteed level, or 1,135 beds, the new contract is expected to generate annual revenues of approximately $34 million.

“We appreciate the confidence placed in our company by the Federal Bureau of Prisons with this important contract award,” said George Zoley, Chairman and CEO of GEO, in a press release. “Our Rivers Correctional Institution in Winton, North Carolina plays a key role in helping meet the need for federal correctional bed space. We look forward to strengthening our long-standing public-private partnership with the BOP and the community of Winton.”

The news was well received on the local front.

“We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with GEO and Rivers Correctional since they decided to locate here,” said William S. “Bill” Early, Hertford County’s Economic Development Director. “I felt we were in a good position to retain the prison in Winton, but anything can and will happen when a contract is put out for bid.”

Early said RCI was Hertford County’s largest corporate taxpayer and ranks high in the number of employees (347 at full staff).

“I continue to be optimistic about Hertford County’s future within the business landscape,” Early added. “Having Rivers Correctional on board with us for at least the next 10 years is a building block in our effort to attract and retain businesses.”

RCI, a low security facility, represents a $63 million investment and is located on 257 acres just west of Winton. The facility is a campus design with four housing buildings, recreational areas, a central programs building, an administrative building, a prison industries building, and four perimeter towers. The design of the facility enables cost effective utilization of security staff supplemented by modern electronic surveillance.

Programs offered at the prison include ABE P-GED; GED; Life Skills, including Anger Management and Parenting Skills; Substance Abuse Education; and Vocational Education courses, including training for work in the Prison Industries program. Inmates have access to a law library and a general interest library. Religious services appropriate to the needs of the inmate population are available. Inmate Services include a fully-staffed healthcare unit, a fully equipped kitchen for complete food services, a laundry, a commissary, and indoor and outdoor gymnasium/ recreational facilities.

The $5.3 million facility was built in one year, opening in February of 2001 and received its first federal inmates one month later.

GEO also operates Lawrenceville Correctional Center in nearby Lawrenceville, Va.