Charter Rights
Story Archives
Sign Our Guestbook
View Guestbook
Contact Capp @   or   Post Comments  CAPP Message Board   and  Any Upcoming Events

Colorado: Letter to the editor.

September 10, 2004
Writer offers more statistics on prison issue

Dear Editor,

Last week a member of PCDI wrote a letter addressing the economic benefits of having a private prison in Lamar. The letter was well-written and optimistic. I, too, am excited about the Pierre Auger Project, the Big Timbers Museum expansion, and the Main Street beautification ideas. I have had a strong passion for improving the aesthetics on Main Street for 31 years. It has always been my opinion that, along with an alternate truck route, improving the aesthetics in our town is what will pave the way for more businesses, and promote tourism and population growth.

What the PCDI member did not mention, however, were the COSTS involved in having a private prison in Lamar. While the prospect of receiving sales tax revenues sounds great, will the revenues be sufficient to cover the costs of infrastructure improvements? Local or county taxpayer dollars will be used to fund such improvements. Wastewater management has been a major issue at many prisons. Limon and Sterling have seen their wastewater treatment facilities overwhelmed by the opening of new prisons. Subsequently, both cities' treatment facilities have been out of compliance with environmental law, requiring taxpayer-funded upgrades (The Limon Leader, Feb. 2, 2001)

Another impact on local government is increased court activity. A private prison in Prowers County would be accompanied by an increased burden on the local criminal justice system, considering the fact that civil actions which involve prisoners are processed by local officials. Sheriff's offices in Lincoln, Bent, and Crowley Counties all reported that civil filings increased after the prisons were in operation. The sheriffs also reported increased problems with juveniles and juvenile drug use. The data shows that juvenile filings increased by 60.4% in the prison counties. In the four years following the opening of Bent County Correctional Facility, County Court filings in Bent County increased an astonishing 98.9% (Criminal Justice Master Plan - Logan County: PACT, 1998).

When disturbances occur in Colorado's private prisons, state and local law enforcement officers are called on to respond to the incident. Thus, any private prison in Lamar would put local officers at risk.

The PCDI member mentioned salaries paid to employees of private prisons. A private prison's primary method to turn a profit comes from underpaying staff. This leads to inexperienced and untrained people working as corrections officers. There is an astounding 53% annual staff turnover rate in private prisons (The 2000 Corrections Yearbook: Private Prisons, Middletown CT: Criminal Justice Institute, 2000).

Statistics show that in Bent County, per capita income has remained essentially stagnate while comparable counties have experienced increases in the last half of the 1990's. Similarly, retail sales in Bent County appear unaffected by the prison. Law enforcement expenses have risen sharply. Changes in the local employment rate are as erratic as the years before the prison opened. (Research compiled by the Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, April, 2003).

Besides the economic factors, I believe that Lamar citizens could be compromising their safety and their peace of mind if a prison is built within the city limits. While there are benefits, there are also costs. The citizens should be allowed to determine which are greater.


Carolyn A. Kelley,1413,121~7975~2393193,00.html

| Post Any Upcoming Events | Top of Page | Home Page | Post Comments on Message Board |