Home » Government » Globe Citizens Opposed to a Prison Town Pack the House
Outsourcing incarceration to the for-profit prison industry is bad public policy for all the reasons we heard this evening. …….And, any new, additional prison planned for Globe is absolutely NOT the sort of enterprise this community needs or wants...

Globe Citizens Opposed to a Prison Town Pack the House

By: Linda Gross

The Globe City Council met a sea of opposition last night regarding a proposed private prison to be built in Globe as a part of the State’s RFP for 5000 more prison beds. Even though the State recently rescinded that RFP (on Friday), citing they no longer feel they need the beds, both the organizers of last nights opposition, as well as Mayor, Fernando Shipley believe it is not ‘really off the table’ …

and could come back at anytime. Therefore, the group calling themselves Globe Citizens Opposed to Becoming a ‘Prison Town’ went forward with their presentation to the Council in making a strong case against the private prison project and asking the Mayor and Council to pass a new resolution that unequivocally opposes any Prison Project in or near the City of Globe.

Handing over nearly 1000 signatures collected by the group in just three weeks, Moss reminded the Council his group would be out at the Gila County Fair this weekend collecting hundreds more signatures at their booth.

The Group had asked to be put on the Agenda weeks ago and promised the Mayor they would take no more than an hour and would have several business leaders and local residents speak for 2-3 minutes each on various aspects of the project and their reasons for opposing a prison. True to their word, the group wrapped up their presentation in under 50 minutes, at which point it was turned over to the public and Mayor Shipley allowed many in attendance to speak for another 45 minutes. (See Part II for public comments)

People started arriving at City Hall as early at 5 pm, and at 5:30 when the Council doors were opened, most of the 89 seats were filled almost immediately. Another 20 people stood in the back during the entire presentation. Opening remarks by Jim Moss, who has led the opposition were followed by prepared statements from each of the following residents/business leaders:  Charlie Anderson, Linda Gross, Nadine Garcia, Darin Lowery, Theresa Hicks, Kelly Moss, Bryce Barnes, and Sarah Bernstein.

Jim Moss: I need to emphasize that the words I speak tonight may not reflect the precise point of view of everyone who
opposes this prison proposal. There are those among us who do not feel as strongly about the difference between public & private prisons. However, the tie that binds all of us together is that we do not want another prison constructed in our town.

So, although the views presented tonight by all of the speakers, reflects the majority opinion of Citizens Opposed, each speaker is speaking for himself/herself – and, although I am the chief organizer of this opposition — my words reflect solely my point of view.

For the past two and a half months, those of us involved in this grassroots opposition campaign have spoken with hundreds of local residents — and I can say with confidence that the vast majority of citizens do not want a prison built in our community. Anyone who thinks otherwise, is either not listening or is not asking the right questions. Sure, if a person who has not tuned in, or who hasn’t heard anything about the ‘prison debate’ – was asked – “What do you think of the hundreds of jobs the new prison is bringing to town?” — That uninformed person might respond, “Sounds good to me!” But, if one takes a couple of minutes to talk with that person about the kind of jobs, the poor working conditions, the pervasive problems within the private prison industry, the negative effects of a BIG prison on a small town — well, then he/she readily responds by saying,

Charlie Anderson who came from Hardin Montana where a private prison nearly bankrupted the town spoke about their experience with private prison operators

“We have our prison already. One is enough.” or

“A big private prison is NOT what this town needs!” or

“Where can I sign your Petition?”

We have heard the same story over & over from the 50 volunteers who have carried Petitions for this Cause. And, Speaking of Petitions — over the last 3 weeks, Citizens Opposed to Becoming a Prison Town have collected more than 1000 signatures from local residents. Approximately 85 % represents Globe residents. The remainder come from residents of Miami, Claypool, and San Carlos. Many of the folks attending tonight’s meeting are each holding a NEW Petition folder — ready for ten new signatures, ready to enlist more voices in this important endeavor! And, we intend to inform & enlist hundreds of folks this week at the County Fair.

At this time, Mr. Mayor & Council, I would like to present you with the 1000+ original Petition Signatures that we have thus far gathered. Please keep this stack all together as it passes from one Member to the next — – We need these original documents back in just a few minutes. At a later date, ALL of these eventual 2000, 3000 or 4 thousand signatures that we ultimately collect will be presented to the County Board of Supervisors, to our State Representatives, to the Governor, and to the AZ Dept. of Corrections —- even to the Private Prison Promoters who dared to think Globe was fertile ground to sell a for-profit prison! Take a good look, you will undoubtedly recognize many names of Citizens, of your constituents.

…It is not that we are opposed to all prisons; it is not that we are soft on crime; —- it IS the common sense understanding that a BIG prison in a small town carries real-life consequences. To some extent, it is a matter of scale & proportion — a BIG prison can overwhelm a small community with lots of challenging, negative problems. It affects the quality of life. It adversely changes the community. And, the change is permanent…”

Charlie Anderson: Speaking of the Hardin Development…”The developers painted a great picture (for Hardin) and said none of this could ever happen (empty beds)….but it DID happen.The Town is bankrupt and has become a pit. Instead of a friendly town, it is a hard town. It has attracted non-productive family members..The developers are there purely to make their money and go…

Linda Gross: This is a risky partnership. Even some of you who voted YES,  have admitted you don’t trust the parties involved, or believe the numbers they are presenting for revenue and jobs. The project itself is financed through Lease Revenue Bonds which is based on filling prison beds. Although this involves a State contract, the RFP clearly gives the State a back door by stating, the “contract is based on appropriations by the Legislature with No Penalty for canceling.” And Budget Stress has already caused California, Oklahoma and Wisconsin to reconsider their DOC policies… Is the State of Arizona so blind to the costs associated with current incarceration rates that they will fail to re-vamp their own policies which are currently the root of our overpopulated prisons ? (The Recession is Closing Private Prisons)

Linda Gross, owner of Cedar Hill B&B and Globe Miami Times, talked about a risky partnership with people who Council members have admitted they don’t trust.

Nadine Garcia: “…The kind of jobs this project would bring to our town are substandard, high stress and low pay. The people and families who would follow these prisoners would not likely be contributors to our communities. I’m sure a lot of hard work has gone into the possibility of bringing this prison to town. So why not funnel your energy instead on finding a business or industry that we would all be proud to support…”

Therese Hicks:

“Bringing in senior housing was a wonderful step in a positive direction. Housing our Seniors? Absolutely. But I personally believe that bringing in a 1000-bed prison is a major recipe for disaster and can only further deteriorate the quality image we are trying to develop for our area.” Therese Hicks,

“I have three major heart burns about this issue.   The first one surrounds Water issues… Being a rancher and fully aware of water rights in this area, I can’t imagine where we are going to get the water for a 1000 bed prison, additional 300 employees and all the family members they bring to town? Where will our friends, family and neighbors get water if we have committed acre feet of water constantly to support a thousand incarcerated guests?…Hicks then went on to speak about her friend/rancher, Robert Krentz who was murdered earlier this year by suspected drug runners on the Border.  Speaking of the drug cartels, she said, “I am not anti-Mexican, my grandmother was Maria Concepcion Romero. I am anti-anything that will further attract criminals further North into Arizona. Lastly, Hicks explained that besides ranching in the community and operating a clinic and a spa, she has a new businesses involving a unique design for an above-ground cattle guard. This design has met with success both in Washington and at the ForestService and the product may very well be manufactured and sold nationally.” If this thing takes off, we absolutely will set up a facility to fabricate it ourselves,” she said. ” I can’t guarantee we will fabricate in Globe. But I can guarantee that if we host a thousand criminals and invite all their buddies to hang out here it will be one of the last places I will want my grandchildren to feel obligated to live and raise their little ones. We don’t inherit our land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. Please  lets think about long term quality and not short term quick deals.

Darin Lowery: “When I moved here five years ago, safety was a major consideration since coming from the Valley. Plenty of research available on what happens to a town which hosts a private prison…My concern is this, by bringing in a private prison…and by extension a prisoners family, friends and associates..which can include gang members, and increased drug traffic. The public is not safe in a prison town. The lack of training creates unsafe conditions both for those inside, as well as outside the prison walls. Added to this is a 50% turn over rate amount prison staff which results in a transient population which will not contribute to community…”

Darin Lowery spoke about the social costs of bringing in a big private prison to a small town.

Kelly Moss: I am here to speak to you about jobs and will begin with a question.

Are you willing to sacrifice the quality of life we enjoy in our community for a couple hundred UNattractive jobs?

These private prison jobs are not only unattractive to workers, they produce very unattractive results for the host community. Private Prisons cut staffing expenses to maintain profit. This is typically done by staffing with fewer employees, paying lower wages, offering fewer or less costly benefits, providing less training and leaving vacant positions for extended periods of time. Much higher incidents of violence.This makes for a very dangerous work environment. Due to these and other factors, these Private Prisons suffer extremely high rates of job turn over. Actually three times higher than public prisons.

Bryce Barnes: (Worked for Corrections Corp of America- the largest private prison company operating in the US- for two years at their facility in Florence, where he was an academic instructor. He now lives in Globe with his family.) Barnes spoke about his experience as an employee,  “I had CCA’s standard FIVE weeks of classroom training.” Stating there was no physical training- as is required by State. No polygraph test, he went on to say, “I went through the same training as correctional officers . You merely need a GED or HS diploma, a background test and a drug test. Because of low standards and inept training methods, he said he was bothered, “…considering some of the Corrections Officers who were hired to protect myself and the public.”

“I saw very high turn over in regards to staff officers.  I saw promotion from within due to money saving reasons rather than hiring the right people for the job. I saw staff being assaulted by inmates, manipulated by inmates. I saw inmates assault inmates. I saw inmates manipulating staff to bring in contraband. I saw lax security. I was a teacher in a locked room with 24 inmates for 6 hours without any officer in site…. I saw the town of Florence as not an attractive place to live…Most of the staff did not live in Florence…”

Sarah Bernstein: Speaking on behalf of herself as a mother, wife, business woman and community member, Sarah spoke about the character of the community and the many assets unique to our area. Assets which are being ignored in a process which is positioning a “private prison” as the saving grace for all the economic ills of this region. She quoted her mother-in-law,Mary Bernstein who has owned United Jewelers for over 45 years and seen many economic ups and downs as the price of copper fluctuated over the years. The 87 year old woman who has weathered every economic storm that has come this way in nearly half a century said, “Copper never killed us. But a Private Prison just might.”

As a mother of young children, Bernstein ended on an emotional note when she said, “I never heard anyone in our house put a child to bed with a pat on the head and a goodnight kiss…and a comment about how lucky they are to beable to grow up and be a prison guard in Globe.”

Jim Moss wrapped up the groups presentation by

We, who oppose, have been criticized for injecting morality & ethics into this debate. Should we leave questions of morality & ethics outside the city limits? Is it not the case that there are few issues of real importance that come before this Council, that do not have an ethical dimension to consider?

Jim Moss, local businessman and organizer of the group opposing a Private Prison, spoke first at last nights Council Meeting.

We have this opportunity as a community to take a stand and do what is right for our town and for our state. We should set an example and offer support to other Arizona
communities currently facing this dilemma — such as Prescott Valley, Benson, Tohono-Odom Reservation —we should stand together and reject the private prison
industry. We — have an opportunity, to lead — to tell the AZ State Legislature & Governor and DOC — get the private prison industry out of our state, and begin doing
so now!

Outsourcing incarceration to the for-profit prison industry is bad public policy for all the reasons we heard this evening. …….And, any new, additional prison planned for Globe is absolutely NOT the sort of enterprise this community needs or wants. Mr. Mayor & Council — we urge one more time — pass a Resolution that unequivocally opposes any prison project proposed now, or in the future, within our community of Globe, AZ.

About Linda Gross

Writer, photographer. Passionate foodie, lover of good books and storytelling. Lives in Globe. Plays in the historic district. Travels when possible.

5 comments

  1. The AZ Department of Corrections called me this morning to set the record straight on my statement that the RFP had been canceled “because the State did not need the beds.” NO, says DOC. They simply pulled this RFP to allow them to re-write the criteria and will RE-ISSUE THE RFP to the same parties “in about a month.” The DOC representative indicated the new criteria was a result of what happened in Kingman, but he was not at liberty to say what the new criteria would include.

    This clarifies two KEY issues:

    This issue of a private prison locating in GLOBE is Far from Over. It is more important than ever to have the Globe City Council recind their invitation to site a BIG for-profit prison in this town.

    And the fact that the DOC called on my article in GMTnewsnviews, indicates they are focused on this area.

  2. Hmm, It is hard to tell if the Globe City Councilmen/Councilwomen are listening. If not maybe a recall or two is in order.

  3. Frankly, we don’t want ANY prisons in Globe- private or otherwise. The Mayor/Council Members talk of jobs as being important, but a man I met today- who worked at a prison- told me, “You get what you pay for, and those guards are at the bottom of the pay scale. Think about it.” A minimum-wage guard with a GED who is responsible for approximately 34 prisoners- the average at for-profit prisons… where violence between inmate on inmate and inmate on guard are out of control…… And private prisons have a 50% turnover rate- look it up, folks. The info is out there.
    And while I’m sure there are folks who are seeking employment in Globe, if ‘senior’ guards, company men and others are transferred here, how many real jobs would there be? AND WHO WOULD WANT THEM FOR LONG?

    Perhaps we should task the EDC to pursue small manufacturers; small to mid-size firms who produce a quality product with 30-75 workers- because let’s face it: most of the ‘big’ jobs- cars, furniture & clothing go overseas. The days of American firms opening huge factories Stateside are over.

    Therese Hicks wants to (perhaps) open a small company here? HELP HER OUT. And find more like her.
    Globe has plenty to offer. Private prisons are bad business any way you look at it, and the City Council wants to
    shrug their shoulders helplessly, saying it’s probably inevitable? Let’s see some spine.

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