Apparently VLCIA misunderstood what CCA was looking for

Apparently VLCIA, or one of its expert consultants, thought CCA was looking for a thriving county economy in choosing a private prison location. That doesn’t seem to be what happened.

Economic Impact of Project Excel by Clifford A. Lipscomb, Ph.D., 2 November 2009:

The VLCIA has noted that Project Excel is considering other locations. Below I provide a comparison of key economic indicators for these alternative counties — Grady and Decatur.
Table 1. Characteristics of Selected Counties
Population, 2008 28,82325,115104,583
% Pop w/ Bachelor’s degree 12.1%10.6%19.7%
Median HH Income, 2007 32,65033,06038,666
Persons below poverty, 2007 22.5%22.2%20.5%
Persons white non-Hispanic, 2008 54.8%60.6%60.0%
In closing, it appears that Project Excel is an excellent candidate for location in Lowndes County.
So which other county did CCA actually pick? Decatur County, with low population, low income, and high poverty. According to, 17 July 2010, Prison Coming to Decatur County,
Corrections Corporation of America has finally announced their intention to build a prison in Decatur County.

The not so secret secret was announced when the Bainbridge-Decatur County Development Authority agreed to a memorandum of understanding with CCA on Thursday.

The plans are to build what is thought to be in the range of a $100 million facility on 110 acres located in the Decatur County Industrial Park on Highway 27 north. The site is in the back of the Industrial Park, well back from the entrance on Highway 27 north.

It is hoped the facility will provide 400-500 jobs for our area in the next couple of years.

It’s been a year and a half since then, and those jobs haven’t materialized, not in Decatur County, and not in Lowndes County.

So why would we want a private prison to turn us into a prison colony while generating profits for its executives and shareholders? According to VLCIA’s consultant:

In tough economic times, counties and cities must be willing to be creative in their business attraction efforts. Project Excel is not a typical project (lean manufacturing, logistics/distribution, etc.) for our community; but the current state of the economy is not typical, either.
Because we’re desperate, apparently. And apparently desperate was as good as impoverished for CCA.

Are we really that desperate? That’s what they said in Grayson County, Virginia about the prison they ended up building that never opened:

“We really need it in the county really bad.”
Do we want to invest in a business that’s likely to close or never open, because we can no longer afford to lock up so many people? If either happens, we the taxpayers are out a lot of money for zero economic benefits.

If you want to help provide the Authority with evidence of community opposition, here’s a petition to stop the CCA private prison.