Thursday, October 15, 2009

"We're trying to better our town"

This article about the small Montana town of Hardin is a hard lesson about of the desperation that leads to rural prison building and the consequences for one small town. The private jail is empty, the town is on the hook for costs, the economic crisis has made the prison a bad investment, and the worst may be yet to come. The potential savior comes in the form of a deal with a sketchy security company that the town desperately needs to work.

What strikes me most is the theme of desperation that runs through this article. It is present in many areas that have sought rural prisons under the illusion that the prison is their only hope for economic development.


Spec said...

Here is the CNN article from last May detailing Hardin's bid to become the new Gitmo

With many suburban areas creeping ever outwards, the isolated areas where prisons were are no longer so isolated. Of course, you could just do it like Salem, OR (where I went to Undergrad) and have two prisons and a criminal mental institution within the city limits.

I agree with your description of the desperation which seems to run throughout. I only want to draw attention to how we have privatized many areas which one would think would be primary governmental functions, here prisons.

Anonymous said...

These depictions of Big Horn County do create an impression of a place so hard up for money, it would accept any undesirable with open arms, as long as there are jobs. It sounds like a place with no civic pride. However, when I spent time in Montana, I attended several rallies and town-hall type meetings in Lodge Grass (about 30 miles south of Hardin), where the residents were protesting a state plan to place a landfill in an area that often floods and is close to the school. The themes at these meetings could have been taken verbatim from a town meeting anywhere in Marin County, CA or Fairfax County, VA. The people there were concerned about children growing up next to an eyesore and potential health hazard. They were concerned about how the landfill would shape Lodge Grass's reputation. So I'd like to think that the residents of Big Horn County would accept the Gitmo prisoners not because they are desperate, but they've been through so much, the idea doesn't faze them.