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Feb 03 2011

Prisons do not benefit small towns!

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From a report called: ” Prisons – no benefit to small towns”:

Over the past three decades America’s most depressed rural communities expected significant economic benefits from a boom in prison construction. The U.S. prison population grew almost 400 percent to about 1.3 million inmates.  Gregory Hooks, Sociology Chair at Washington State University, Clay Mosher, Thomas Rotolo (also from WSU) and Linda Lobao from Ohio State took on a research project that turned up some surprising results.

After assessing of the impact of both new and existing prisons over the past 25 years, they “found no evidence that prison expansion has stimulated economic growth…” Claims of economic benefits appear to be propaganda.

“We provide evidence that prison construction has actually impeded economic growth in those rural communities that were already growing at a slower pace.” and “Among slow-growing counties, it appears that new prisons do more harm than good.”

Prior studies, relied on the claims of business leaders (sound familiar?) and usually examined only a small number of prisons. This research analyzed the economic impacts of prisons on communities in more than 3,100 counties throughout 48 states.  They used three major indicators of economic well-being: growth in earnings, per capita income, and employment. Prison Towns showed little improvement after prison construction. Counties without a prison had the highest annual rate of growth – and those with a newly built prison grew at the slowest pace.

It’s interesting that private US companies seeking to increase profit, hired inmates at sub-standard wages in an effort to lower their employment costs.  When offshore sweat shop workers became too expensive the Corporations hired prison inmates at slave wages.

What’s worse is that our Provincial Liberal Government promised thousands of dollars worth of “free” prison labour.   I was distressed to hear that communities could maximize profit from free prison labour (slaves) municipal employees were not a’ Union Shop’.

“We provide evidence that prison construction has actually impeded economic growth in those rural communities that were already growing at a slower pace.” “Among slow-growing counties, it appears that new prisons do more harm than good.”

60% of prison construction jobs, and internal prison jobs go to workers from outside the prisons town.  Most live in a neighboring communities with more amenities and no prison. Once a county or community is known as a “prison town,” discussion of other kinds of economic development evaporates. and that trend has a detrimental impact on local employment and wages.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink our Justice System.

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  1. VSB needed for sewage clean up in Victoria

    […] also, but things should be warming up by March when I return. Any progress with your project or are you going to be a prison host? Shortly after I started communicating with you, a Steve McArthur contacted us about doing “green […]

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