If you follow the news at all you are aware that President Biden has signed an executive order that will phase out the Department of Justice’s use of private prisons, terminating federal private prison contracts. This executive order does not encompass all private prisons, including the facility located in Toole County owned and operated by Core Civic.
“The executive order does not affect state contracts, like Crossroads Correctional Center, only privately-operated Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons correctional facilities,” said CoreCivic Director of Public Affairs Amanda Gilchrist.
This is good news for the residents of Toole County as the loss of Crossroads Correctional Center would have drastically impacted the community and its economy.
“It would affect every segment of the county if the prison were to close,” said Toole County Treasurer Boyd Jackson. “That is tax base that would have to be offset by higher taxes across the board to help make up the loss of revenue.”
Since opening in 1999, Crossroads Correctional Center has paid millions in tax dollars back into the county. Last year’s REAL Property Tax Statement shows the facility paid $455,263.39 alone. This is approximately what has been paid each year for the past 20 years, with some years being even more and others a bit less.
The tax dollars help fund everything in Toole County, from the school system to public safety. The tax amount paid to the District School Levy just by Crossroads last year is $135,030.13. It also generates thousands of dollars for other funds that the County would have to raise taxes to make up for if the facility was to close.
“The prison has a huge impact on our city,” said Mayor Gary McDermott. “Mainly it’s financial, but also on the employment side. It’s a good facility. I’ve been up there and I’m impressed with the cleanliness and how well it is run. I think it’s top-notch.”
Crossroads currently employs 178 people. If it were to close the loss of jobs would be devastating for many families around the area. It is one of a few job opportunities offered with above minimum-wage pay, a retirement plan and other benefits.
If the prison were to close there would also be the dilemma of where the prisoners currently housed here would go as the state-owned prisons are already fighting overcrowding. It’s not a matter of “prison for profit,” but simply the fact that there are a lot of inmates that would be crowded into already crowded prisons around the state.
“I am just wondering where we would put all these convicted felons that our state prison cannot take because of more overcrowding,” said Toole County Commissioner Don Hartwell. “I did a little more researchand it looks like the Feds will not house some 12,000-14,000 federal prisoners in private prisons. The article said this executive order would have little, if any, impact on private prisons. The 12,000-14,000 prisoners is nationwide.”
Hartwell continued, “This is just another example of the policies that have failed from the liberal side of the aisle. I do not think that if people lose their lives because felons are turned loose it will bother them at all. It is the same thing if someone gets killed by a grizzly, there is no change in the bear management policies.”
Regardless of what side of the politics you are on, the bottom line is that in Toole County’s case the fact that Crossroads Correctional Center will remain in operation is a good thing for the community, economically and employment-wise.