Adams County does not need a prison

Published 1:21 pm Friday, March 30, 2007

I respectfully disagree with Darryl Grennell as to some of the content of his article dated March 27.

Depending on the source of information both GEO and CCA do not have excellent reputations in all areas.

The prison break statistics compared to public facilities is many times worse and the attacks on prison staff by inmates are similarly much higher in these privately operated facilities.

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Statistics from 2005 suggests that one facility in Mississippi actually employs 220 people versus the 350 that the city and county hoped for and evidently had been promised.

The annual turnover rate for that facility was reported to be a whopping 65 percent. This alone suggests that working conditions are much less than most employees will endure.

This high turnover rate is indicative of the majority of privately-operated prisons, compared to 16 percent in publicly-operated prisons and is caused by something related to the job that the employees cannot live with.

Good paying jobs with good working conditions do not have turnover rates that high.

As for the goods and services being purchased locally, there is nothing to indicate this company will utilize local merchants for anything other than for emergency purchases.

All large companies purchase goods and services through corporate contracts due to the money saved by buying in bulk.

Local merchants usually cannot compete.

In response to the cost of an election I submit that if it actually costs $18,000, which I sincerely doubt, that money would be very well spent due to the fact that taxpayers could have a chance to vote their conviction.

These excerpts were taken from some of the reports I have seen:

1)While prisons clearly create new jobs, these benefits do not aid the host county to any substantial degree since local residents are not necessarily in a position to be hired for these jobs.

2) Results of this analysis of prison siting in rural counties in New York State since 1982 indicate that reliance upon a prison as a means of economic development is short sighted andnot providing any long-term growth. The siting of a prison did not significantly influence either unemployment or per capita income.

Moreover, once a town hosts a prison and becomes known as a “prison town,” discussion of other means of economic development is likely to evaporate.

This is the real danger for the community. Potential host counties need to be particularly wary of viewing a prison as the panacea for their economic woes. Although the pitch may be enticing, the results indicate that there is little substance behind these claims. There is a high likelihood that these counties could be closing themselves off to other options of sustainable development.

Comparison of jails and privately operated prisons is impossible. There is no commonality between those incarcerated for local crimes or misdemeanors and operated by local well trained law officers and others in a federal detention center that come from who knows where for whatever reason and are operated by individuals that may not have resources, training, or personal fortitude to protect the public in the event of an escape or riot.

Colorado had to spend $386,000 to quell a riot in their CCA-operated prison in Crowley in 2004.

Inadequately trained and ill-equipped guards failed to prevent the riot or regain order. This facility had a guard to inmate ratio of 1 to 34 compared with 1 to 5 in state-operated prisons.

As for “knowing that no resident wants to live near a prison,” I definitely agree. If Mr. Grennell and others responded honestly the prison would not be supported so aggressively if it were going to be located in close proximity to their home.

Please consider the outcome if my information is more correct. Who really knows at this point? After the prison is built it will be too late to cry. Force our leaders to allow this to be voted on by signing the petition.

Charles Wheat is a concerned citizen of Adams County.