WSU Researchers Find Prisons Offer Few Economic Benefits to Small Towns
PULLMAN, Wash. -- Throughout a boom in correctional facility construction that has spanned the past three decades, many of the nation's most depressed rural communities have vied to become a site for new prisons, expecting significant economic benefits would follow.
As the U.S. prison population grew almost 400 percent between 1980 and 1998 - to about 1.3 million inmates - it became widely accepted economic development dogma that communities that secured prison projects could expect significant economic rewards.
Although such claims met skepticism among some social scientists, there was scant evidence available to dispute them until the publication this year of the results of a research effort led by Gregory Hooks, chairman of the department of sociology at Washington State University.
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