July 10, 2011
On the front page of today’s Tallahassee Democrat there was the quote of the opening lines of the story by the President of the Tallahassee Community College (TCC). “The real No. 1 priority is that over time this facility will bring as many as 250 jobs to Gadsden County. That’s something the college has been committed to for a long time — improving the economic climate in Gadsden County,”
It is worth noting the comments that appeared following the article. They speak so much more eloquently to the situation than I could have said here. Especially noteworthy is the one that said “A better story would have been about the recent cheating scandal at TCC’s law enforcement academy.”
There are those that would say this article is an aberration as the real function of prisons is to protection the public and to rehabilitate as they are called ‘Correctional Institutions.’ If anyone has any doubts about this, I invite your attention to the new prisons built not 100 miles away in Suwannee county.
Suwannee prison was a long time in the making. “After years of seeking a prison for Suwannee County, it appears the county will finally get it. Using the standard multiplier for economic impact of eight, the building of this prison could mean an economic impact to Suwannee County and surrounding areas of $254,800,000.”
At the core of this undertaking was an effort by the business community and local elected officials. “The prison will be built on a 320-acre site the county purchased and donated to the state for this purpose more than five years ago”
At last count, there were only four of sixty-eight counties in Florida that did not have their own state prison facility. If you think the military base closures after the cold war was a major dog fight in the Congress of the US wait till you see what happens if the prison population in Florida is reduced by 24 or worse yet 50 percent. We are now talking of an economic tidal wave in rural Florida.
The worst part of it is there are babies being born today and tomorrow who are destined to a life of abuse, addictions and incarceration. Not because they are bad but the situations they are born into leaves precious few options for other outcomes. Don’t believe it, then check the statistics.
Florida prisons are nothing more than traditional Florida politics that have only morphed since its entry into the union as a slave state. It is politics built on the pain and suffering of those deemed as expendable. The question that falls out of this equation is: is this a Florida phenomenon or a national phenomenon?