Reasons to keep a prison open…
From a New York Times article about possible closings of prisons:
On Jan. 11, the Spitzer administration announced plans to close Camp Gabriels, two other corrections camps and a medium-security prison, all of which have been operating below capacity since 1996 because of a decline in the number of nonviolent felons, the state’s corrections commissioner, Brian Fischer, said.
Closing those prisons, Mr. Fischer said, would save the state millions of dollars, free up money for the treatment of sex offenders and mentally ill inmates, and finance programs like anger management and vocational training, meant to prepare prisoners for their release.
Boils down to saving money, because there has been a decline in nonviolent felons. Wait, those are reasons to celebrate closing a prison. That’s actually the best reason: it’s not needed.
But the name of the article is “Plan to Close Prisons Stirs Anxiety in Rural Towns”. So what are the reasons to keep it open?
As rural economies across the country crumbled in the 1980s and the population of prison inmates swelled, largely because of tougher drug laws, states pushed prison construction as an economic escape route of sorts. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, an average of four prisons were built each year in rural America; the rate quadrupled in the 1980s and reached 24 a year in the 1990s, according to the federal Agriculture Department’s economic research service.
The boom, experts say, provided employment, but it also fostered a cycle of dependency. Depressed rural communities came to rely on the prisons as a source of jobs, economic sustenance and services, with little effort devoted to attracting other viable businesses.
It’s the economy, stupid. Maybe longer prison sentences for drug offenses? Could that cure our current economic woes?
We don’t want to put all those guards out of a job.