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Archive for Thursday, February 7, 2008

Prison could boost economy

February 7, 2008

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A federal plan would construct a new medium-security federal prison in Leavenworth, which would operate alongside the existing U.S. Penitentiary, above.

A federal plan would construct a new medium-security federal prison in Leavenworth, which would operate alongside the existing U.S. Penitentiary, above.

— Anticipated construction of a new medium-security federal prison in Leavenworth would be welcome news for the area as the economy continues to slow.

"We're talking millions and millions of dollars in expenditures, in construction," said Charlie Gregor, executive vice president for the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce. "This would be for several years, tying up almost all the local contractors with various contracts: concrete, carpenters, wood framing.

"There's so much that goes into this thing. It's not like building a big apartment house."

The project would operate alongside the existing U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, the place built in the early 1900s and that for years operated as a maximum-security prison, holding the likes of George "Machine Gun" Kelly and Robert Stroud, who later would become known as the "Birdman of Alcatraz." Today, it's being used for medium-security inmates.

Project in budget

Planning for the approximately $300 million new prison already is getting a boost. In his proposed federal budget for the 2009 fiscal year, President Bush has included $1.4 million for construction planning, such as conducting research and field tests to ensure that a site near the existing prison would work. The entire process - from planning to completion - could take up to six years, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Plans call for a new prison big enough for more than 1,100 male inmates, plus 250 employees. Building in Leavenworth - where the Bureau of Prisons has about 1,500 acres of land - would allow the bureau to share costs between two prisons.

Even better, Gregor said, it would give the Leavenworth area more federal employees, which would boost security for families, contractors and businesses who have come to rely on the steadfast economic underpinnings of operations backed by the federal government.

Federal corrections officers earned a starting salary of $28,862 last year.

"These are jobs that are good-paying, solid jobs that have all the best benefits and retirement and all that," Gregor said. "We have over 400 of those now with the federal prison, and we like those."

The U.S. military already is building a new disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, which will bring another 400 military personnel to town, who will be likely candidates to stay in the area upon leaving the service, Gregor said.

"This will provide a source for talented and trained - by most standards, very, very well trained - military police to man this (new medium-security) institution," Gregor said. "Over time, I think most of the employees will be strictly local."

Widespread benefits

A new federal prison would give the Leavenworth economy and, to a lesser extent, surrounding communities a major infusion of federal funds and the spending they would spur, said Dan Rowe, a principal who leads the justice group for Lawrence-based Treanor Architects. The firm has designed jails in the region, including the Douglas County Jail in southeast Lawrence and a new $60 million addition to an adult detention center in Johnson County.

The anticipated project cost for Leavenworth - $274 million to $298 million, according to the Bureau of Prisons - doesn't include all the spending by contractors who would come to town to eat lunch, stay in hotels, buy materials and complete other transactions that would make a major project even better for the community's bottom line.

"We've seen orders of magnitude two to three times the size of the construction budget," said Rowe, who confirmed that Treanor would be interested in seeking design work on the project. "It wouldn't be unusual for this to have a major impact on the area."

Greg Nook could see why.

Nook, executive vice president for J.E. Dunn in Kansas City, Mo., said that 98 percent of the $297 million construction budget his company had for a new IRS center in Kansas City went to contractors and subcontractors.

At least 90 percent of a prison project's construction value would be expected to go to subcontractors, he said.

"It's at least that much," Nook said.

And don't forget: The federal government - whether it's the IRS, the U.S. military or the U.S. Bureau of Prisons - boasts a strong record of paying its bills, which would be no small matter in times of economic volatility.

"It is a real trustworthy credit client," Nook said.

- Lansing Current editor John Taylor contributed information for this story.

Comments

hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 2 months ago

oldvet and Navyvet, the Ordinance people know which goods can deliver the strike. Never underestimate the Ordinance folks.

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was_freashpowder 6 years, 2 months ago

HOw about this NV we go with your plan and just make the Criminals enlist in to military Service.....

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bobberboy 6 years, 2 months ago

Leavenworth is a great place for another prison - they have so many in the area already.

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oldvet 6 years, 2 months ago

NavyVet, you must have been a corpsman or an aviator, because I like your thinking and those two mos' are the only ones we Marines like... the aviators because they come in low and slow and put ordnance exactly where we need it, they understand the "close" in close-air-support, and the corpsmen because they wade into the thick of it with us and save Marine's lives... Thanks for all your previous service and support...

Semper Fi

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NavyVet 6 years, 2 months ago

why don't they, indeed jg.

Many already have picked themselves up by their bootstraps and led productive lives. And many will. But some don't and some won't - and those who don't need to be held accountable for their actions . . .

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NavyVet 6 years, 2 months ago

VOR - it's not an either or proposition. Schools are already funded. Many choose not to attend. And even those who do attend commit criminal acts along with those who attend to receive an education. If you think that education is the thing stopping criminals, then why is there crime - of the same kinds - in the suburbs as the inner-city, and in LDCs as in industrialized (read educated) nations?

The answer is that one's education doesn't matter when it comes to crime. Likewise, beaten or praised, negelected or fawned over - any person is capable of criminal activity. And even though one may argue education contributes to less criminal activity, to argue that education is the panacea ignores the criminal population. Which is to say that educated people commit crimes . . . including PhDs from K-Sate who murder their wife, and kids at LHS/FS, and students at KU who deal/use alcohol and drugs, or rape, or commit a host of other crimes.

In the end, the choice has been made by society as a whole, and the choice is universal - that's why Kansas, like all other states and nations, has prisons.

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nrvana8775 6 years, 2 months ago

"The prisons is big business, and you're slave labor" - Immortal Technique.

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J Good Good 6 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, I mean why don't those kids living with abusive parents who rape them and throw them out on the street like trash just pick themselves up by their bootstraps and not develop anger issues. Very helpful attitude.....

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Kathy Getto 6 years, 2 months ago

Build prisons or fund the schools - the choice is ours.

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monkeyspunk 6 years, 2 months ago

was_freash:

You are incorrect. There was crime in Communist Russia and the Eastern Bloc nations. There was less because of how harshly criminals were treated. Prisons there make our worst look like Hollywood rehab clinics. Communist countries were much more susceptible to shortages than market countries are because of strict production guidelines. Those countries were ruled by absolute fear of the state. You want that in the US I think. You think people never went hungry in Communist Russia?

We have more people in prison on drug related offenses than all of Western Europe does for ALL charges combined.

Want to fix the prison system? Fix the laws.

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was_freashpowder 6 years, 2 months ago

Navyvet Esnlginh is not my fsrit, seoncd, or tirhd lagnague. and I fgirue as long as you can dcepiehr what I am tyrnig to say, you can see my piont.

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NavyVet 6 years, 2 months ago

sorry jg, everyone can help themselves unless they're mentally incapacitated . . .

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J Good Good 6 years, 2 months ago

No one is born a violent criminal.

There are certainly people who need to be locked away forever (or put to death if you believe in the death penalty).

But how one is raised is NOT irrelevant - humans do not have endless capacity to survive horrendous abuse without emotional damage. This is a fact that any social worker or teacher can validate.

If, as a society, we would pay more attention to the children who are growing up in terrible circumstances we would not have to throw so many lives away. This IS helping people who cannot help themselves.

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NavyVet 6 years, 2 months ago

Mmm, hmm, wipe your mouth "was_ ***" , your venomous spittle is flying . . .

And you should know, "was_ ***" the only thing stuck up mine is a turd that reminds me of you. Inferring from your post - unlike you, I earned whatever I have and don't expect to have anything handed to me - you race-baiting A$$. It seems that one working for what they have is a foreign concept to you. You apparently have nothing and look to blame "rich white" people (whoever they may be) who, by implication of your assertion, contribute to all the world's ills - as if there are no rich people of color who do the same. As if all the world's ills can even be contributed to rich people, and the criminals are not at fault. You've convinced me; you, too, are a victim. (By the way, do you even know what it means to infer something?)

That said, I admit your baseless personal attack certainly undercuts my arguments. You're both persuasive and articulate.

OK, I'm kidding - your personal attack makes me laugh, makes you look as stupid as you are, and makes anything you claim to be an argument a joke.

I'm certain this is too far over your head to comprehend and then consider, but while there's a cost to society involved in prisons, there's a benefit to society that outweighs the cost - and that makes it a solution, not the problem. And to argue that prisons, and not the prisoners in them, are the problem makes you look even more uneducated, ill-logical, empty-headed and brainless. Which is to say, whatever Russia and "history" have to do with anything related to prisons in Kansas and America, only you and God know . . .

So why don't you pull your head out of whatever color yours might be, learn to make a cogent argument, learn to both spell and write in English, and then learn the use of proper grammar - particularly the use of a period, and proper sentence structure.

Then kiss whatever color mine might be . . .

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was_freashpowder 6 years, 2 months ago

wow , NavyVet you are obviously an rich white person that has a silver spoon stuck directly in their A$$, you are forgetting history in russsia or any communist place they dont need prisons there is little to no crime because everyone can afford food and basic things and everyone has a job. we should look for solutions to fix things not make them worse

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l_town_playa 6 years, 2 months ago

This thread is laughable. "Prison Pollution"?!?! Are you kidding me? How about the pollution of that sex offender in your daughters panties or the bullet in your son's head? Some people do need to be locked up.

No way this will contribute to the Lawrence economy. We all know that it is impossible to live in this town on $28k/yr.

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NavyVet 6 years, 2 months ago

The 'woe is they (and me)' crowd amuses . . . you must be a bunch of trial lawyers - who else could try to persuade others that prisoners are victims and deserve our sympathy, and prisons are a waste of $$$? Nobody but a social worker.

It's not possible that a person capable of logically thinking would advocate foisting help on those who commit crimes, and can help themselves, but refuse. It's not logical because that would be a waste of taxpayer's money. And only a trial lawyer who makes money making vicitms out of those who choose to be irresponsible, or one who makes no money (read social workers) making vicitms out of those who choose to be irrresponsible would make such an argument.

What particularly makes no sense are those who claim that prisons are a waste of money, then out of the other side of their mouth champion spending taxpayer's money on education and mental health services. Those who choose to be repsonsible have to pay their own way, why should society pay the way of those who choose to be irresponsible? And please don't bother with the "because it helps better society" argument. That argument is a farcical one, and is only valid - maybe - when you're talking about helping those who cannot help themselves.

B3, akt2 and oldvet are right on the money. The prisoners made a choice - let them live with the consequences . . . just like everyone else in society. But in any event, keep those who cannot function in society away from those who know how - and do - by locking them up. If you want to be a do-gooder for the prisoners, open a job training skills shop for convicts, and do your best to get them a job - but use your own time and money.

I am where I am because of my past actions - just like the prisoners. Unlike the prisoners, however, I am not incarcerated. I have a job, a family and live peacefully among you - and do so without committing criminal activity. And one's past experiences/upbringing is irrelevant. If the thought of being locked in a cell and having your every move scrutinized isn't enough to change you into not wanting to be locked in a cell and your every move scrutinized, then when you act criminally - and you know it's criminal - you belong locked in a cell and your every move scrutinized.

So, to paraphrase Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, I choose to ignore the locked-up, losers 'victimhood' . . .

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jumpin_catfish 6 years, 2 months ago

We need more prisons or less stupid people. If stupid people won't learn then off to prison they should go. Mental health issues may lead a person to commit crimes but it shouldn't excuse them for their behavior (some exception apply). I'm depressed or angry because I'm broke so I robbed a store is an excuse. No one gets their head fixed unless they want to get it fixed, stubborn and stupid people suffer. Sad but true.

Maybe Lawrence should work on getting a prison it sure needs more jobs.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 2 months ago

A new modern day WPA project and another employer that will pay no property taxes and likewise employees will live in Lawrence and leave town to work and then want more schools built in Lawrence. We have ample supply of new clients for the prison in Lawrence though , some being at the Drop In Center. They can have an alums come home party at the new prison.

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akt2 6 years, 2 months ago

I'd rather see the perverts and murderers locked up. There is only so much social services or mental health services can ever do for these deviants. They have no right to walk freely in society. Let the do gooders visit them in prison. They can coddle them there.

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i_tching 6 years, 2 months ago

Here's a great economic idea: pay a bunch of guys to do nothing except occasionally rape one another, then pay a bunch of other guys to watch.

Think of all the money that could be made! What a boost to the economy!

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oldvet 6 years, 2 months ago

Just outsource the prisoners to Mexico... it would probably cost us about $3 per prisoner per day and Mexico would make a profit on that...

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hk45 6 years, 2 months ago

I cannot believe they want to build a prison to bring jobs and $$$ to the State. Oh my, prison pollution is horrible and it is going to destroy everything around it. Study after study have said how bad prison pollution is for the environment so we must fight this!!! Jobs are bad, increasing the tax base is bad, prison pollution is bad...no more!!!

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b3 6 years, 2 months ago

We need more executions, a lot more, than we wouldn't need more prisons.

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was_freashpowder 6 years, 2 months ago

Exactly educate these people most of them are low income people that turn to crime because they have nothing good going for them. They would totally make different decisions if they had opportunity. The only Reason that Prisons are the first things super Rich people are pushing for is because the Super Rich benefit from Prisons, think about it if a father of 2 or 3 gets arrested and put in Prison because he feels he has ran out of options and commits a non violent crime to feed his family. Now his Family has lost a bread winner which makes for less competition for the rich because if someone is missing family members it is hard for them to succeed. I would Rather see another community college or Vo-tech get built. Or a new Mental Dept able to help these people . These options Create jobs. I will vote against a new Prison. We should be known for our educational systems and the ability to help people not for Prisons which take non violent people out of the community . Its Crazy rich white people can commit non violent white choler crimes and they walk free...

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

Prisoners cost taxpayers between $50,000 - $100,000 per year.

If those kinds of tax dollars are available the government should think about re-opening the Topeka Clinic and creating jobs that pay so folks don't angry then commit crimes plus push more Vo-Tech education = skilled workers which sometimes = owner operator business people

Prisons are NOT bargains for taxpayers. This is absurd.

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Bill Chapman 6 years, 2 months ago

Back to subject: -Building a new prison would add SERIOUS income to the KC area. After being built, the prison would continue to boost the local economies with the funds from the DOC employees and the prison support industries (food, supplies, etc.).

Sorry about the previous rant, but I get annoyed when thinking about how much public funds are wasted on keeping prisoners alive (and in good health!) while they make no contributions to society.

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Bill Chapman 6 years, 2 months ago

In one respect I agree with was_freashpowder, prisons do need more focused rehabilitative aspects - how to accomplish this . . . that is the BIG question. I will always disagree with those who refuse to ignore the cost of life-time imprisonment over the use of a death penalty. Keeping a criminal in prison is a constantly rising cost, the last I remember reading of it was over five years ago and the cost was over $40,000 per inmate, per year. I'm certain it has gone up a great deal. In the case of career criminals (especially the violent ones), this is constant drain on public resources with no return for the cost (other than keeping the convicts from re-entering society). I believe such criminals should be given a set length of time to exonerate themselves, after which the execution of sentence MUST be held within a set period. This is the minimum I could hope for - I would like to see harsher sentences for ALL violent crimes - from misdemeanor to felony counts, as well as using prison work gangs to do pubic work projects as part of their sentence. Many criminals count on the revolving door of prison, it gets them out of most legal obligations and many of the illegal ones too. Currently, while in prison career criminals learn new skills to improve their ability to commit crimes. Many end up joining gangs they never would have had contact with outside of prison, and continue with the gangs projects once they get out.

This needs to be STOPPED!< Harsher punishments and mandatory death sentences would prevent many people from considering to do the crimes connected with the hasher punishments. It may not stop all of the career criminals, but it would give many a second thought before committing such crimes.

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was_freashpowder 6 years, 2 months ago

we dont need more Prisons we need mental health depts to help these people, Throwing someone in Prison only hurts society because thats one less person who can contribute and who do you think pays to keep the prisons running ??? TAX payers ! more Prisons = bad idea....Federal corrections officers earned a starting salary of $28,862 last year. yea but they only live 5 - 10 years after taking the job because of stress This is a Freaking JOKE we dont need any more Prisons we are the only country that has imprisioned 1/4 its population !!!

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63BC 6 years, 2 months ago

Kudos to Brownback who announced this last week---appropriations and judiciary committee assignments bring jobs to Kansas.

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