States trying to fight recession by closing prisons are finding that what saves scarce money costs precious jobs, says USA Today. New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Kansas are among states that have closed prisons this year as they struggle to balance budgets. In 2008, states spent about $47 billion from general funds on corrections, four times as much as in 1988, says the Pew Center on the States.
“Inmates are getting released that wouldn’t have been released in good budget times,” says Tom Tylutki, president of the corrections officers’ union in Michigan, where eight facilities are scheduled to close. “We believe (public safety) is being compromised.” Plans to close three prisons and five prison camps will cost 1,000 jobs. In Standish, a 19-year-old maximum security prison is the county’s largest employer. If it shuts down Oct. 1 as scheduled, “it will be catastrophic, there is no doubt,” for the town of about 1,800 people, says the Rev. James Fitzpatrick, who organized a rally and prayer vigil to protest the prison’s closing.