Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Debunking the "Economic Stimulant" Myth

Aside from the promises of cost-savings that private prison companies tout when pitching a facility (which often fail to materialize as anticipated), another major selling point for many towns considering a private prison is the expected economic benefits the facility will bring.  Proponents argue that private prisons bring in more tax revenue from facility operations, bring more money to the local economy as employees from other towns come there to work, and provide jobs to locals.  Well it turns out that most of that isn't true, either.

In an interesting article that discusses California's decision to send medium-security inmates to a GEO Group facility in Baldwin, MI, Frank Smith, superstar of the anti-private prison movement, described how private prisons "look like a prison," but are essentially "cracker boxes," meaning the guards and operations of the facility aren't up to part with what you'd find at a state-run facility.  But even more disturbing were the findings of an Iowa State professor, who determined that when private prisons come to small towns, they actually wind up damaging the local economy more than help it.  Median housing value declines, unemployment rises, average household income decreases, and poverty rises after private prisons come to town.  The professor's overall finding was that "private prisons don't offer nearly the advantages that state prisons do." (emphasis added)

So the next time a private prison operator tries to pitch a facility based on the stimulation it will provide to the local economy, take that with more than a grain of salt.

No comments:

Post a Comment