2/17/2010 10:43:00 AM Letter: Town should support prison
Reading Tribune letters of citizens' concerns and fears about a prison in Prescott Valley filled me with both sympathy and memories. Everyone wants the best development possible for the city; my personal experience supports prisons in community dvelopment.
I am familiar with the reservations of citizens as I lived in Casa Grande when Florence added private prisons and later when Eloy added some. We considered the same concerns then. I was horrified when my son decided to become a corrections officer in Florence, but I quickly learned that it was a well-paid, safe, professional job offering advancement. With a high school diploma and a few months training, he was employed in a good job, and my fears were relieved. Many citizens were alarmed before the prisons were placed, but no predictions of crime sprees came true.
On the contrary, Florence revived a dying downtown with new businesses and developed desirable housing at a rapid rate. Eloy improved its economy, not as rapidly because Casa Grande and Arizona City were available to provide housing and shopping for the new employees. However, when I visit relatives now, I see Eloy has opened many new businesses, renovating previously boarded up buildings.
I taught in Tulia, Texas, a small town near Lubbock with a new attractive private prison. Like Florence and Eloy, Tulia lost much of its economic base of family-owned farms to large corporations. Parents of some of my students worked at the prison in respected, well-paying jobs. Tulia revitalized a failing older downtown and new families began a prosperous recovery.
A prison in our community can provide jobs, a boost to the economy, and a larger population. The larger population could benefit the town another way by causing more money to be allocated by Arizona and the Federal government to support our local needs, but require little or no expenditure directly on the new "residents." Florence benefited from population growth, and I hope Prescott Valley can.
While I fully understand the worried tone of the opinions I've heard and the letters published, I urge the town council to support a prison project. There will be risks, of course, but the pain of poverty and loss of businesses is far greater than the risks of a prison. For the health of Prescott Valley, I ask other residents to reserve judgment, restrain their concerns based on stereotypical ideas of prisons with prisoners, families and employees. They are, after all, ordinary people who made bad choices. I sincerely believe you will be pleasantly surprised.