I applaud local leadership for trying to diversify our local economy, but I do not believe the proposed ICE detention center is right for our community. In economic terms, oftentimes once you are labeled as a “prison town,” other businesses and industries do not want to locate there.
I do not believe that this will be a long-term solution for jobs in our community. If you wanted to bring in an industry that may be more volatile than oil and gas, you couldn’t pick a worse one than the private prison industry.
Before the current national administration, there was increased bipartisan support to do away with private prisons. A change in the political landscape in the future could do away with these facilities entirely.
Studies show the social effects of bringing in a prison include increased rates of divorce, alcoholism and substance abuse, suicide, health problems, family violence and racism. Dehumanization of both prisoners and guards inevitably takes place behind bars. The toll on loved ones, neighbors, and friends of correctional officers would have a negative impact on our strong family community.
One of the best features of our town is the Bear River State Park, and putting this facility next to this gem of our community would be a shame. Handing over prime land would destroy any future possibilities of positive development and recreational opportunities.
Current lawsuits and complaints of MTC (Management and Training Company) have been marked by substandard and inhumane conditions at their facilities, broken financial promises to local communities and a lack of transparency and accountability when problems have arisen. I do not believe they are a going to be a positive or long-term business partner in our community.
I also can’t conclude without speaking to the morality of a private prison, and no matter how you want to spin it, this is a prison. There is something morally wrong about someone making a profit from locking up human beings.
It is true that some forms of incarceration are necessary, but should we really be handing over our tax dollars so that a private company can make money by imprisoning our fellow human beings. This is one area that does not need to be a business. Making it a business creates perverse incentives that are not about public safety or punishing law breakers.
Prison privatization is fundamentally wrong. It sacrifices liberty and justice for corporate profits. Please don’t bring our community down by supporting such an immoral industry.
I know this may be a tempting offer given our current economic situation. I commend local leadership for trying to find solutions to our current downturn. I just truly believe that in the long run this will be a detriment to our community. This immigration detention center will drag on the public perception of our town and will quietly injure our town’s perception of itself. It will institutionalize a degraded environment and quality of life. Please don’t let this be our legacy to our children.