Now, the City of Littlefield has announced that the buyer has backed out the deal. According to a story yesterday at KCDB.com (“Littlefield Detention Center bid falls through,” September 16, 2011):
“The private buyer made the offer via telephone during the July auction. Thirty days after the bid, the contract on the property was supposed to close. However, the City received word that the deal had fallen through.
‘It didn’t happen and the reason it didn’t happen was because the person who put in the highest bid basically backed out on their bid and kind of put us in a tailspin,’ City Manager Danny Davis said.
After years of mismanagement and broken contracts, the $11 million dollar detention center sat vacant. The city was left to foot the bill, still owing more than $9 million on the property. The city was certain the bid of $6 million would help close the gap on their debt. The news of the bidder’s change of heart is frustrating for Davis.”
As we've written about in the past, Littlefield has been paying back loans it floated to build the prison facility before its closure in 2008. That year, the state of Idaho pulled its prisoners from the facility, then operated by GEO Group, after the suicide of Randall McCullough, who, according to news reports, had spent more than a year in solitary confinement. GEO was later hit with a massive lawsuit over in the McCullough case.
Since the facility's closure, Littlefield has had its bond ratings dropped and turned to two different private prison companies in an effort to fill the prison beds. One has to wonder why, given this history, a different owner would be more successful in turning this "turn-key detention center" into a financial success.
We'll keep covering this story as more details emerge.