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  • mcprison mcprison Dec 14, 2000 6:50 PM Flag

    WHC and CRN in CA, pt 1

    Prison officialsgrilled by residents
    Desert
    Dispatch - Barstow, CA

    RYAN DAUGHERTY/Staff Writer


    BARSTOW � Representatives of two private
    companies trying to build a
    federal prison in Lenwood
    perhaps felt a bit like Gore attorney David Boies

    after a meeting Wednesday night.

    A largely
    unsympathetic crowd peppered spokesmen from Wackenhut

    Corrections Corp. and Cornell Corrections Inc. with questions
    ranging from
    residency requirements for workers to
    what would prevent the federal
    Bureau of Prisons
    from changing the proposed 1,500-bed minimum

    security facility to a medium or maximum security facility
    later on.

    �I think you�re trying to sell us a
    pig in a poke,� said Barstow resident
    Chuck Monds
    to enthusiastic applause. Monds said a friend of his
    who
    worked for the Bureau of Prisons said supervisors
    encouraged prison
    workers to live 30 minutes away in
    order to calm down after the job, and
    not take the
    day�s frustrations out on their families. Neither side
    denied his
    claim.

    Both sides say
    approximately 250 to 300 new jobs would be created if a

    prison is built, and that the federal Department of
    Labor�s starting wage of
    $21.82 an hour for
    correctional officers � the highest paying entry-level job

    at either prison � would be strictly adhered to.


    Neither company can guarantee those new workers
    will choose to live in
    Barstow, although
    experience has shown that many will, said Ray
    Andrews,
    warden of the Taft Correctional Institution which is
    currently run
    by Wackenhut.

    Andrews said any
    workers wishing to collect overtime will likely live
    in
    Barstow, as they are the first to be called when
    overtime work is needed.
    He also said the Taft
    facility averaged $100,000 a month in local spending,

    a large boon to Taft�s economy � a tiny town of
    about 6,500. He and
    approximately half of his staff
    at Taft live locally, he said, while the other

    half live in Bakersfield, about 40 minutes away.

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    • Workers not living in Barstow might be a problem,
      said Don Little, a real
      estate broker for the City
      of Industry-based Overland Co., a general
      partner
      in Overland Lenwood Limited Partnership. In 1995
      purchased the
      1,200-plus acres of land in Lenwood that
      both prison proposals are slated
      to
      occupy.

      �Until there�s something to make it (the city)
      market-driven to make
      somebody come in and do some
      building, I think some people will still drive
      out to
      Apple Valley or Victorville or likely probably to
      Spring Valley Lake,�
      he said.

      City Economic
      Development Coordinator Jeanette Hayhurst said a new

      upscale housing development is in the works that could
      bring around 200
      higher-end homes to a 500-acre
      site near H Street and Rimrock Road.

      �One of
      the motivators I see (for developers) to build here
      is they see jobs
      coming to the area,� Hayhurst
      said.

      Both companies said they would give first
      preference to local workers.
      George Killinger, a
      development director for Cornell, said �vendor fairs�

      would be held to select from the local employment pool
      and to develop
      supply contracts with local
      vendors.

      While admitting nothing prevented the
      federal government from later
      changing the proposed
      prison to a higher level of security, both sides
      said
      the process would require another conditional use
      permit from the city
      Planning Commission and
      approval by the City Council.

      As to the question
      of whether or not an additional 750 toilets and
      sinks
      would affect the local water supply, both sides
      said studies had proved
      water would abound.


      Wackenhut is proposing a 64-acre facility between
      Jasper and Agate roads
      on the west side of Lenwood
      Road, while Cornell�s proposal covers 79
      acres in
      the same location. Both proposals would house only
      legal and
      illegal aliens convicted of lower-level
      drug offenses or immigration violations.
      No inmate
      with a sentence of more than five years would be
      housed.

      Killinger said the average sentence
      would be about 18 months, and that all
      prisoners
      would be deported at the end of their sentence.


      For more information about the proposal, contact the
      Site Selection and
      Environmental Review Branch,
      U.S. Dept. of Justice, Federal Bureau of
      Prisons,
      320 First St., N.W. Washington, D.C., 20534. The
      telephone
      number is (202) 514-6470 and e-mail is
      siteselection@bop.gov.

 
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