This is the best news I've had today. Note how this group isn't just looking at economics - they're seriously questioning the ethics and effect on the character of the community if they host a private prison in Globe. You folks are going to do alright by those kids in your town whether or not you win this fight, because at least they will come to value that your reasons for resistance have to do with much more than finding any old means of subsistence. By your example they will learn that it isn't moral - nor is it a blessing from God - to profit off of the perpetual victimization that divesting from treatment and investing in incarceration assures. Rock on, brothers and sisters of Globe. Rock on. You too, Holly Sow - well done.
Citizens become active against prison proposal
Posted: Wednesday, Aug 4th, 2010
BY: Holly Sow/Staff Writer
GLOBE — A group of local citizens have formed to voice their opposition to the proposed 1,000-bed for-profit private prison in Globe city limits near the Gila County Fair Grounds. The group rejects the private prison as an economic development project for the area declaring that “promoting Globe as a ‘Prison Town’ is not in the best interest of the community.”
The group argues against the idea of private prisons based on a number of findings regarding the effects for-profit prisons have on local economies as well as a universal questioning of the ethical motivations of incarcerating people for profit.
From an economic standpoint, for-profit prisons are not comparable to state-run prisons in that private prisons are businesses, which are accountable to shareholders. Although Emerald Corrections, the private prison operating company that has put in the bid to ADOC for a 1,000-bed prison in Globe, has promised competitive, well above minimum wage compensation for its employees, statistics show that most private prisons pay lower wages or at minimum wage in order to cut operating costs and increase profit. One study showed that in order to reduce costs and increase profits, those who are in direct contact with the prisoners (the bulk of the jobs that would be open to the local working force should the prison be built) are the ones who earned the lowest wages.
Moreover, the group finds the profit motive of private prisons at odds with the rehabilitation function desired from such correctional institutions. Many argue that for profit motives may lead to reduced efforts to correct behaviors, treat substance abuse, and offer skills necessary to reintegrate incarcerated persons into the community. For-profit private prisons make money off of prisoners. It is not in their best interest, therefore, to try to reduce the number of prisoners, but rather they welcome the steady flow of incarcerated people in the equation prisoners equal profit. This raises the question of whether private prisons have an incentive to assist people in their efforts not to return to prison.
Another question raised is whether or not private prisons are in fact as profitable as they like to appear. A 2001 Report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy revealed that for-profit private prisons, especially larger ones with 500+ beds, are often the recipients of economic development subsidies provided by local, state, and federal governments. Combine the government funded subsidies with the relatively low wages and the limited ripple effect of the private prison business, what often appears like an excellent economic development opportunity to a community may not always live up to the promised expectations.
Furthermore, statistics show that many large private prisons tend to be financed through government-issued securities (lease bonds) which do not require voter approval. The issue of lack of oversight is another critique point of private prisons. Because private prisons are accountable to their shareholders, not the public, quality assurance in business practices often lacks transparency. Private prisons are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act.
The local group opposed to becoming a ‘prison town’ is asking citizens of Globe to look deeper into the for-profit prison business and consider the negative effects such large prison would have on further economic development of the city of Globe. They are asking the Globe City Council to pass a new resolution that “unequivocally opposed an Prison Project in or near the City of Globe.”
For more information or to become involved in the group, contact Jim or Kelly Moss at 928-425-9282.