A non-profit private firm, Correctional Concepts, Inc. has proposed a "faith-based" private prison in Leonard, Texas in Fannin County. At a December 13th Leonard City Council meeting, no action was taken on the prison issue despite a large turn-out from opponents of the prison who had collected 400 signatures opposing the prison from around the town of 2,000. From the Leonard Graphic,
Leonard City Council members took no action on four agenda items concerning a faith-based prison that could be located in the community. A motion to withdraw from contract negotiations with Corrections Concepts Inc. by Steven Bolin died for lack of a second and two other items, one calling for a referendum in the May municipal election and one for calling for a public hearing died for lack of a motion
More than 70 people packed the Leonard City Council chambers Tuesday evening as the council took up discussion on the items relating to an agreement with Corrections Concepts Inc. and the construction of a faith-based prison in Leonard.
Of course, a faith-based prison raises constitutional questions that could limit the prisons ability to attract contracting clients. According to an article in The Herald News, Fannin County, along with another 8 Texas counties and communities, have already rejected CCI's offers to place a religious prison in their communities.
According to another article in the Leonard Graphic:
Dallas attorney John Sheedy, who represents the city of Leonard in the corrections concept, presented a short overview of the plan, but did not open the floor to questions from those attending the meeting.
Sheedy is clearly no neutral observer representing the county's best interest in this process, but rather a proponent of the prison project. And, frankly, his answers to questions about why other communities have been concerned about faith-based prisons are a bit loopy. From the Graphic article,
As to why Corrections Concepts Inc. has not been accepted in any other community, Sheedy said he believed in Satan. “He exists, he doesn’t (sic) this project to succeed,” he said. “He is doing everything he can to defeat this project and he is using good people with good intentions. Satan is much more powerful than anybody in this room, he will twist that person around where they think they are doing the right thing in fighting it.”
Well, if that doesn't inspire confidence in county's representation in the matter... We'll keep you updated on developments from Leonard, Texas.