Mayor: State should expand private prison
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Shelby city leaders say the state Department of Corrections should consider the private prison in Shelby when it increases the number of state prison beds. Last month, the Montana Corrections Advisory Council recommended the state provide up to 512 additional beds for male inmates to meet a projected increase in the number of prisoners by 2015. The council did not specify how or where the state would increase the number of prison beds. S h e l by Mayo r La r r y Bonderud and Toole County Commissioner Allan Underdal say state officials should consider adding beds to the private Corrections Corporation of America-run Crossroads Correctional Center. Bu t Bo b A n e z , t h e Corrections Department's communications director, said the Schweitzer administration believes corrections is a government responsibility and that for-profit companies should not make money from The incarceration of prisoners. However, he said Crossroads will remain “an integral part of the corrections system.” Bonderud said the state insisted when the Shelby prison was built 11 years ago that the company build the facility to include enough roads, water, utilities and space so it could be expanded from 500 to 1,500 beds. “CCC has been a good, fully accredited prison, has the room and utilities to expand and should be part of the mix when different prison expansion options are considered,” Underdal said. “It's best for the state of Montana if everyone is allowed to compete for facilities nobody should be excluded because of political preference.” Future administrations and Legislatures could take a different view on private prisons. Schweitzer's term ends in 2012 and he is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election. Anez said the Corrections Department “is working to postpone the need for additional prison beds as long as possible,” by stressing more local corrections and treatment programs and increased local probation and parole officers. State Corrections officials are also concerned about the ability to hire enough staff for a large prison expansion, whether it happens in Shelby or Deer Lodge, Anez said. Crossroads Warden Sam Law said there have been times when CCC has had staffing problems, but he said the company has not had trouble filling vacancies during the current recession.