The movement for the faith based prison is getting some traction. Two points were obvious at the steering committee meeting yesterday, May 4th.
First, communication and information flow in the Concho Valley has major problems. Many of the opposition that showed up said they had heard little or nothing until very recently. The information they did have was incomplete or inaccurate. The members of the steering committee were surprised by opposition after what they consider a major effort to be open in their meetings. Apparently, the nomal media didn't consider this very newsworthy until it started getting controversial.
Next, there is a lot of concern about the impact of a prison. There are numerous studies, some of which will be listed on conchoinfo.org . The common points made are that prisons do have an impact. They do provide jobs that are stable over the long haul. There is evidence that they tend to reduce other economic development in the area as few businesses seem willing to locate close to a prison. There also seems to be a negative impact on property values in the immediate area that tends to balance out over a metropolatin area. This is, however, not your normal prison. Faith based programs in regular prisons are relatively new, and the first faith based prison in the country was just recently opened in Florida. Add in the factors that this is to be a private prison with a partnership with industries that will operate inside the prison and the old rules likely don't apply.
Bottom line, this prison is an experiment. It is breaking new ground. This prison planners will have to be very proactive in communicating with the community. There will have to be SOLID and TRUSTED channels of communications. Block parties, citizen forums, townhall meetings, and other meens of citizen involvement will be necessary.
If this was just another prison, I would not support it. With the plan that is on the table, I have an open mind. I expect more information and more communication before I make up my mind. Leave me your comments. Lets get the information flowing. Don't forget you can share comments here. Click the comments link at the end of the article