April 24, 2009

City looks to Gitmo to fill empty jail

Officials in a Montana city said they are looking to bring former Guantanamo Bay prisoners to a vacant jail in the town.

The Two Rivers Authority, the city of Hardin's economic arm, completed work on the 460-bed jail in 2007 but has not received any contracts to open the facility, the Billings (Mont.) Gazette reported Friday.

Greg Smith, executive director of Two Rivers, said he has been talking to federal agencies and staff members of the Montana congressional delegation about bringing in prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay facilities in Cuba, which President Barack Obama has ordered to be closed in a year. However, Smith said the process to contract for former Guantanamo prisoners is unclear and it is not yet known which federal agency would operate facilities housing the detainees.

The Hardin City Council approved a resolution Tuesday in support of Smith's efforts.

The resolution said the city fully supports the efforts of the Two Rivers Authority to contact state and federal officials for the purpose of inquiring into the possibility of housing Guantanamo detainees at the Two Rivers Authority in Hardin, Montana, and to determine whether the Two Rivers Detention Center could provide a safe and secure environment for housing said detainees.