U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is looking for answers from the Federal Bureau of Prisons about delays officials say they are experiencing in completing repairs at FCI-Marianna.
After Hurricane Michael, the Federal Correctional Institution in Marianna was shut down due to extensive damage. Now, one year later, it is still not functional–displacing employees and severely impacting the local economy.
FCI Marianna is managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In the past, the prison has been Marianna’s largest utility customer.
In an interview with Marianna City Clerk and Finance Director, Kim Applewhite, she said, “Their utility bill ran around $75-80,000 a month. That’s for their water, their wastewater and their gas. Right now, their bill is around $10,000 a month.”
In February, the Bureau of Prisons informed Senator Marco Rubio that the prison would be reopened by December of 2019. They have now pushed it to August of 2020.
“If it goes into another fiscal year, we’re gonna have to continue to cut every way we can and possibly use city reserves to continue to function,” said Applewhite.
Senator Rubio is also concerned. The Senator reached out to the Bureau of Prisons himself. The Senator wrote a letter asking for updates on repair efforts and a more accurate time frame for when the prison will reopen.
The letter stated, “Dear Dr. Hawk Sawyer,
One year ago, Hurricane Michael hit Florida’s panhandle, causing catastrophic damage to Marianna, and forcing Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Marianna to close for repairs.
FCI Marianna employees nearly 300 of Marianna’s 7,000 residents. These guards, nurses, and facility administrators have been transferred to other locations, or are working temporary duty assignments out-of-state for weeks at a time. In February, the Bureau of Prisons informed my office that it expected to be fully operational by December 2019. As I understand it, that estimate has now been pushed back to August 2020. As you can imagine, FCI Marianna’s staff, and the community, are eager to have the facility return to normal operations.”
For that reason, I respectfully request that the Bureau of Prisons brief my Washington D.C. staff in order to provide repair updates and an expected time frame to reopen the facility. I look forward to continue working with you to help put these hardworking federal employees back to work in support of your mission and their community.
Thank you for your continued attention to this important matter.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO
Currently, some workers are being relocated for work. Some have been sent as far as Mississippi, taking them away from their homes and families.
Marianna City Manager, Jim Dean says the city’s economy is taking a huge hit, “It is part of our community not only because we provide services but also our citizens work there. Not being open creates a hole in our community, displaced workforce, and lost revenue which is expected to be over $1 million at this time.”
The loss of revenue from the prison forced the city to set strict budgets for the fiscal year.
“We had to make substantial cuts in our capital outlay, no raises were given, bare bone minimum increase in expenditures because of the major impact that the prison had on the city’s financial statements,” Applewhite said.
The TIMES has not had a response from officials at FCI as of deadline for this week’s paper.