Re-Opening of North Lake Correctional Facility Met with Protests

The North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin is now ready to accept and house prisoners, but not everyone in the area is thrilled about it.

The GEO Group recently signed a ten year contract to house non U.S citizens convicted of federal crimes.

They were set to start accepting inmates sometime this month.

The prison has opened and closed several times in the last several years.

This latest reopening was expected to bring jobs to the community and an economic boost, but some in Lake County say that won’t happen.

This is the small but determined group that gathered in Lake County today not far from the North Lake Correctional Facility. They’re concerned the re-opening of this prison will just re-open old wounds.

“This prison has opened and closed three separate times since 1995. A lot of these people are burned out from it. They’ve been hired and fired, well, laid off as they put it and just hold on because we’re working on getting it back open again,” said Mary Minnick.

This group says not enough people in Lake County got the jobs promised with this reopening.

And they’re doubtful GEO will fulfill its 10 year contract.

“There might not be enough to keep the facility open and once again we’ll be a local community, which I love this community, I retired to come to this community, but we’ll just be out of those jobs again and that’s really hard in this community,” said Mark Leatherman.

The North Lake Correctional Facility has been a source of optimism for some and frustration for others. This group says it’s time for Lake County to move on from the years of ups and downs.

“Great that they’re getting hired and it’s awful when they get let go, and it happens over, and over, and over again with this prison, and it’s unfair to the population here. It’s unfair that this is the industry that we have, it’s the only industry we seem to have,” said Minnick.