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HACTC operating near capacity

By Staff | Mar 19, 2010

The Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center (HACTC) has a full house these days.

The jail and drug treatment facility in Rugby has been essentially at capacity for the better part of three months, according to Elaine Little, HACTC administrator. And that’s good for the bottom line.

The facility has been meeting all its expenditures, including its monthly mortgage payment of $12,959. It also has retained earnings of $284,000 as of the end of January.

The average inmate population for December, January and February has been 110, and numbers so far in March have been around 120.

A year ago the jail was struggling to fill beds, but thanks to a boarding contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) last spring and additional jail side boardings through the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCR) and U.S. Marshal’s Service, the inmate count is well over 100.

There are presently 37 BIA inmates housed at the HACTC and there is discussion of hopefully extending that contract in the future, possibly providing beds on the treatment side, if available. Little said it’s been a positive working relationship with BIA officials, adding those inmates have been well behaved.

The city of Rugby and Pierce County as well as McHenry and Wells counties also have contracts to house prisoners there. The county-city inmate numbers have been around a dozen.

The HACTC houses both men and women and last week’s count showed 110 men and 11 women jailed.

Little said the high number of inmates has meant more expenditures for supplies and has occasionally, when new inmates are processed in, caused corrections staff to relocate inmates into different cell blocks based on their risk level.

However, the staff of 33 has handled the steady rise in inmates, Little said.

Inmate counts are expected to remain near their present level at least for the next few months, but traditionally DOCR boardings drop off in the summer.

The increased revenue could enable the HACTC to begin setting aside funds in reserve – a scenario that was never possible during the first few years of operation when the center struggled financially due to lower than anticipated inmate numbers. For the first few years, capacity barely surpassed 50.

Ever since the center opened in 2006, the drug treatment program has remained full with DOCR-contracted inmates. Although data is not yet compiled by the DOCR to determine if those first inmates who were in the program have remained drug-free, Little was optimistic the finding would show a low percentage of recidivism. The treatment focuses on cognitive-restructuring, a key component to helping break the cycle of drug use and other criminal activity.

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