When A Small Town's Private Prison Goes Bust
Date:  11-16-2017

Towns desperate for jobs learn the hard way that building a prison isn't the right answer
From The Marshall Project

Bob Thompson, the city coordinator of Appleton, Minnesota, had a bright idea in the spring of 1990. Thompson, a thin man now in his seventies who has the polite reserve of a long-time Minnesotan, was looking for a way to replace the agriculture industry that had served as the rural town’s economic backbone for generations. After some research, it came to him: a prison.

This article was published in collaboration with Mother Jones. I met with Thompson in Appleton. He told me about his failed attempts to lure a casino and furniture manufacturer to Appleton and how he eventually stumbled upon the idea of making his small town a site of incarceration.

“I had done a substantial amount of reading about what was going on with prisons in the United States, and there definitely was overpopulation of inmates and shortages of beds,” Thompson said, “I called a financial consultant for Appleton in Minneapolis, and I said, ‘Steve, I’ve got a project for you.’” The town broke ground in November 1990, and two years later, on a mild Saturday in September 1992, the Appleton Prison Corporation opened the Prairie Correctional Facility, a $28-million, 500-bed facility in the middle of a soybean field. Continue reading >>>