Last week, it emerged that the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) had sent a letter to 48 states offering to take their prisons off their hand in exchange for a quick infusion of cash. The only small catch was that the states would have to sign a contract guaranteeing 90% occupancy of those prisons for the next 20 years…
For decades now, many small towns across America that fell on hard times were only too happy to embrace the prison industry as their economic salvation. The CCA’s website features an article from the Texas Monthly magazine, entitled “Yes in my Back Yard: How Eden learned to stop worrying and love its private prison”, about one such town called Eden, which is apparently besotted with its CCA-owned detention center. While the CCA has become one of the leading local employers, the article cheerfully notes that “At least half the town’s 2,500 residents live behind bars.”
The half of the town that is behind bars didn’t get to weigh in with their feelings about what it’s like to live in a prison town. Presumably, for them, Eden is no paradise. But the town’s free citizens, many of whom have jobs in the prison, will not hear a bad word said against it.
The nature of the work did not seem to bother anyone too much, apart from the admission that the town still loses young people who, apparently, don’t grow up dreaming of a prison job. All in all, though, the Texas Monthly reports so much enthusiasm about the prison that one can’t help considering the possibility that Eden may have hit on the economic model of the future whereby one half of the town is behind bars and the other half is gainfully employed to keep them that way. What’s not to like?