This is from Eric Lotke at the Campaign for America’s Future Hat-tip to Peter Wagner of the Prison Policy Initiative. See also the first article in our series on the political economy of the prison crisis.
Good Building, Bad Building
By Eric Lotke | December 11th, 2008 – 2:16pm ET
China has opened a new subway system every year for the past six years. The U.S. has opened 45 new prisons and jails. Who’s setting up to lead in the 21st century?
“Expanding prisons mean more jobs,” explained the Fayetteville Observer over the summer.
The rural North Carolina community was celebrating the $19 million expansion of a $90 million prison that opened in 2003 and immediately filled to capacity. Such growth is a boon for rural, economically distressed counties. “Prison jobs bring added payroll, boost housing markets and draw new retail customers to poor parts of the state,” observed the Observer.
The good news is that public investment can work. The bad news is that better choices must be made. We need to distinguish between prisons for crime control and prisons as a jobs program, between building for the future and building for the past.
Read the rest of the piece.