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More Opposition to MTC's Nacogdoches Prison

There appears to be a growing movement to stop a federally-contracted private prison in Nacogdoches. According to a recent article ("Anti-prison group plans protests; NEDCO CEO, police chief address meeting of nearly 100," September 9) in the Daily Sentinel.

Nearly 100 people attended the third meeting of Citizens Opposed to the Prison Site, which was held Monday night at Liberty Hall.

The group opposes a proposed privately owned prison, which would be built inside Loop 224 on Northwest Stallings Drive. The city commissioners, county commissioners and Nacogdoches Economic Development Corporation unanimously backed the proposal, which would be built and operated by Management and Training Corporation (MTC). Mayor Roger Van Horn said the prison, which would be operated by MTC, could bring in nearly $1 million per month in salaries and up to 300 jobs.

Bill King, CEO of the Nacogdoches Economic Development Corporation, was at the meeting to answer questions from the public. King met with MTC officials who told him that the "vast majority" of employees at the prison would be hired from within the community, though members of the group presented research showing MTC has a history of hiring from within their company. King also said that bringing a prison to the area is a good way of diversifying the economy.

"It offers good-paying jobs to about 300 people," he said. King said NEDCO did quite a bit a of research before supporting the prison, though much of the research was focused on how the prison might negatively affect the community, as opposed to whether or not the prison would have a positive impact.

Daily Sentinel reporter Andrew Goodridge, the author of this article, is giving his readers a rare look at both sides of the "prisons-as-economic-development" debate. As Nicole reported in July, Goodridge published a balanced look at the issue, including the numerous studies (PDF) that show that prison construction hurts long-term economic growth in struggling rural communities.

It appears that opponents of the MTC prison are done with their opposition. According to the article, the group plans yard sign distribution and three upcoming protests:

The COPS group had modified its upcoming organized protest plans and locations prior to Monday night's meeting, according to an agenda posted Monday at the meeting. The group plans to protest on the downtown square beginning at 5 p.m. Sept. 16, just prior to the city commission meeting. A second protest is planned for 11:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 19, at the corner of North and East Main streets. A third protest is planned at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, at the corner of North Street and Northwest Stallings Drive.

See the Citizens Opposed to the Prison Siting (COPS) website for more information on the organizing against this private prison proposal.