MOORE HAVEN — Apparently having a new president has been good for the correctional facility in Glades County.
Just two years ago the Glades County facility was faced with shutting its doors because it wasn’t receiving enough federal prisoners to pay the bills. In fact, then-sheriff Stuart Whiddon said he needed at least 400 Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) prisoners to pay the bills. But, as of April of 2014, he was only receiving roughly 200 federal prisoners.
Because of that, Sheriff Whiddon was expecting to lay off 100 employees and move inmates into the old Glades County Jail.
But, along came Donald J. Trump. When he became the nation’s 45th president things started looking up for now-sheriff David Hardin and the Glades County facility.
“According to ICE and Homeland Security, they were given orders not to pick up anyone. President Trump rescinded that order and put people back to work. What that means, they are picking up more illegal aliens,” explained Sheriff Hardin.
As of March 9, Sheriff Hardin said he was housing a total of 452 inmates in his correctional facility. He said 37 of those were county inmates, 19 were U.S. Marshals inmates and 396 were from ICE.
“I’m happy with the progress,” offered the sheriff.
Those numbers mean his facility is now in the black. In fact, the newly-elected Glades County sheriff said things are doing so well that last month his bill to ICE was just shy of $1 million.
“It really looks good,” said the sheriff. “Our magic number is 325. We’re paying our bills at 325.”
The federal prisoners being held in Glades County come from the Krome Processing, Service and Detention Center in Miami. The sheriff said he gets the overflow from Krome. If the prisoner has a court date they go back to Krome and are returned to Moore Haven when they are finished in that court.
Things are looking so good, Sheriff Hardin said ICE is asking him to hire more people. So, he is starting to look at expanding his facility.
“We have roughly 107 corrections offers and have been interviewing and hiring,” the sheriff noted. “When the new annex comes on line we will hire 14 additional corrections officers, and they will have to be all female because it (the annex) will be for female prisoners only.”
Once all of the expansion is completed, Sheriff Hardin said the facility could hold a total of 630 prisoners.
Currently, the Glades facility is receiving just over $80 per day, per federal inmate. Per their agreement with the federal government, this means the county has to charge that same amount for each county inmate.
“But, there may be some changes coming in that area,” he added.
And since business is so good, ICE is now asking the sheriff to hire more people.
Sheriff Hardin explained that local corrections officers take care of the illegal aliens as well as the county inmates. Federal employees, he added, take care of the paper work so he is required to have “… x-amount of ICE people to take care of that.”
There are three similar facilities as the Glades jail — Baker, Monroe and Wakulla counties — that handle federal prisoners in Florida.
Special to Glades County Democrat