Citizens Opposed to the Prison Siting (COPS) turned out in mass on Tuesday to a provide testimony against MTC's proposed federal prison in Nacogdoches at a 30-minutes public hearing called by the County Commission. It certainly appears to me that COPS has provided a thorough set of arguments against building a prison in their community. According to the article in the Daily-Sentinal,
The Citizens Opposed to the Prison Site (COPS) filled the seats and lined the walls in the County Courthouse Annex, and the organized group sent six speakers to the podium, each addressing the court on a different topic, including the effects of prisons on tourism, university enrollment, and property values.
Dick Voigtel, who was an SFA faculty member for 36 years, said the low-paying prison jobs would create a financial burden on the taxpayers. Management and Training Corporation, the company that would build and operate the facility, has stated that the prison would create 300 jobs, with average salaries from $30,000 to $32,000.
"This tells us that these families will be seeking modest housing and will pay very little, if any, taxes unless they own their property. They will also be in need of more social services," he said.
Paul Risk, founder of COPS, recently submitted to the commissioners a petition with 853 unique signatures from Nacogdoches citizens opposed to the prison. He asked the court to consider the voice of the opposition. "You are our elected representatives. Please listen to your constituents," he said. "We want you to rescind your vote of support for this project."
A few proponents (my source in Nacogdoches says there were only two prison supporters) of the private prison also showed up to express support, and they appear to be winning the argument with the commissioners. According to the Daily Sentinel article,
(Commissioner) Cotton said he did not hear anything at the public forum that would prompt him to change his vote to allow the prison, but he would like to see the public continue to voice their thoughts to elected officials.
COPS also continues to utlize the argument that MTC has promised not to move into a community that does not want a private prisons. We'll keep you updated on further developments from Nacogdoches.