Friday, January 7, 2011

A Word of Caution

Title link goes to an excellent and well-reasoned article expressing skepticism over the purported economic values of bringing a private prison to town. The article focuses on the town of Milo, Maine, where CCA unsuccessfully attempted to pitch a prison to local officials a few years ago. Maine's new governor, Paul LePage, a business friendly super-conservative jerk who loves privatization (don't they all?), has renewed a push to bring CCA to Milo, touting all the great benefits like jobs and tax revenue the facility could bring. Apparently he ignored the report of the Congressional Research Service, released this past April, which found that "prisons may not generate the nature and scale of benefits municipalities anticipate or may even slow growth in some localities.” But I guess those sorts of things matter little to someone who just wants to help his business pals make a few extra bucks (especially when CCA donates $25,000 to your campaign).

Thankfully though this article introduces a strong dose of cynicsm into the debate. It highlights some cases where the economic benefits promised by private prison operators never quite materialized (which is basically everywhere). The author also discusses alot of the potential ramifications of privatization, such as the horrendous human rights abuses that take place in the facilities. So hopefully, Mainers will recognize this pitch by the new governor as a thinly-veiled attempt to steer state tax dollars to a company that donated heavily to his campaign. Which is exactly what this is.

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