The big (empty) house

| Wed Aug. 16, 2000 3:00 AM EDT

A new prison set to open in Stewart County, Ga. next month will have everything a correctional facility could need ... except prisoners. The ASSOCIATED PRESS reports in the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION that Corrections Corporation of America -- the subject of a recent exposé in Mother Jones -- is near completion of a $45 million medium-security prison that is apparently the result of a miscommunication.

"This was just a speculative project; we just don't need the beds right now," said Georgia's corrections commissioner. The fact that there was never a written agreement for the prison's construction did not deter CCA from building it. Construction is now at a standstill, with two-thirds of the facility completed.

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This is bad news for Stewart County, which badly needs the 500 jobs the prison would create. As an alternative, CCA may apply to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to house 1,500 illegal immigrants in the new prison. If that doesn't work, look on the bright side: At least the building will keep that new-prison smell.

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