At its regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 19, the Uinta County Commissioners approved a resolution supporting CoreCivic and its proposed establishment of an ICE private prison facility in our community.
The commissioners ignored the fact that most of the major banks in the country are refusing to lend more money to private prison companies like CoreCivic. The commissioners ignored the fact that ICE contracts are for only one-year in duration, subject to renewal at the discretion of ICE. The commissioners ignored the divisive politics now playing out in our country making any investment in a private immigration detention center a high-risk venture.
One of the commissioners said he had talked to undisclosed public officials throughout the country who apparently spoke positively about these facilities in their communities. Did the commissioner talk to the county commissioners in Williamson County, Texas, who ended their contract last year with CoreCivic related to the Hutto Detention Center, after 10 years?
There was much discussion of potential jobs at the commission meeting on Tuesday. Setting aside the moral issues related to ICE immigration prisons, which are substantial, the commissioners have failed to conduct an independent study as to the number of new, permanent jobs that would be created if this private prison is approved; as to whether these jobs can be filled from the current pool of potential employees in Uinta County; as to whether most of these jobs will be filled by people from outside our community (and who may choose to commute to Evanston rather than live here); and as to whether there would be an adverse employment impact on current programs serving our community — including law enforcement, the Wyoming State Hospital, the many group homes in Evanston and other businesses.
The commissioners have ignored the potential adverse impact of this facility on our communities’ ability to attract the other, more desirable businesses identified in the recent Target Industry Implementation Plan (May 2019). The commissioners have ignored the adverse impact that the proposed private prison will have on the value of commercial properties in the vicinity of the proposed site, not to mention the lost recreational opportunities related to the county lands adjacent to our beautiful Bear River State Park. Finally, the commissioners failed to have the creative vision exhibited by Jenn Beachler in the business alternatives she proposed in last Tuesday’s Uinta County Herald.
Aren’t the county commissioners simply gambling with the future of Evanston? Passage of this resolution of support does not legally commit Uinta County to anything (although it certainly makes it appear that most citizens of Uinta County fully support this proposal, which is not even close to the truth). It is not too late for the commissioners to reconsider its support for CoreCivic’s private prison proposal.
The commissioners contend that this prison is something that most of our community wants. I have seen little evidence of such support. In fact, it appears that the opposite is true. Continue to make your voices heard!