05-20-2018  10:50 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

US Marshals, police arrest Vermont fugitive in Oregon

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The U.S. Marshals Service says a missing sex offender from Vermont has been arrested in Oregon.The Marshals say 55-year-old James Rivers was arrested May 16 in Cottage Grove, Oregon, by deputy marshals and local police. It's unclear if he has an attorney.Authorities...

Oregon State study says it's OK to eat placenta after all

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — First experts said eggs are bad for you, then they say it's OK to eat them. Is red wine good for your heart or will it give you breast cancer?Should you eat your placenta?Conflicting research about diets is nothing new, but applying the question to whether new mothers...

State sees need to reduce elk damage in the Skagit Valley

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Elk are easy to spot against the green backdrop of the Skagit Valley, where much of the resident North Cascades elk herd that has grown to an estimated 1,600 is found.For farmers in the area — especially those who grow grass for their cattle or to sell to...

Famed mini sub's control room to become future exhibit

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport has a new addition to its archives — the salvaged control room of the legendary, one-of-a-kind Cold War-era miniature submersible NR-1.Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, conceived the idea for the...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

2018 midterms: An early heat for 2020 Democrats?

ATLANTA (AP) — Look closely enough at the 2018 midterm campaign and you'll see the stirrings of a Democratic scramble to reclaim the White House from President Donald Trump.The leading players — from established national figures such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders...

Northern states taking down vestiges of racism, intolerance

DETROIT (AP) — A nearly 80-year-old statue depicting a European settler with a weapon in his hand towering over a Native American that some say celebrates white supremacy has been dismantled by crews in southwestern Michigan's Kalamazoo.And at the University of Michigan, regents have voted...

Guess who's coming to Windsor? Royal ceremony weds cultures

BURLINGTON, New Jersey (AP) — With a gospel choir, black cellist and bishop, Oprah, Serena and Idris Elba in the audience and an African-American mother-of-the-bride, Saturday's wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle was a blend of the solemn and the soulful.Guess who's...

ENTERTAINMENT

'13 Reasons Why' premiere canceled after Texas shooting

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Netflix canceled the premiere party for its second season of the teen drama "13 Reasons Why" because of a school shooting near Houston.The streaming service announced the cancellation hours before the scheduled premiere and red carpet event, citing the Friday morning...

'Shoplifters' wins Palme d'Or, grand prize to Spike Lee

A tumultuous Cannes Film Festival concluded Saturday with the Palme d'Or awarded to Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Shoplifters," a tender portrait of a poor, impoverished family, while Harvey Weinstein accuser Asia Argento vowed justice will come to all sexual predators.At the closing...

'Jurassic Park' dinosaur expert's next big thing: holograms

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Forget the gray, green and brown dinosaurs in the "Jurassic Park" movies. Paleontologist Jack Horner wants to transport people back in time to see a feathered Tyrannosaurus rex colored bright red and a blue triceratops with red fringe similar to a rooster's comb.Horner,...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

'Deadpool 2' ends Avengers' box-office reign, rakes in 5M

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Deadpool and his foul-mouthed crew of misfits and malcontents have taken down the...

Iraq's al-Sadr, promising reform, is constrained by Iran

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric whose political coalition beat out Iran's...

Company in Cuba plane crash had received safety complaints

HAVANA (AP) — The Mexican charter company whose 39-year-old plane crashed in Havana had been the subject of...

Palestinian publicly sets himself on fire in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A 20-year-old Palestinian is in critical condition after publicly setting...

Iran says EU political support not enough, urges investment

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's state TV is reporting that the country's foreign minister has urged the European...

The Latest: Maduro's challengers criticize 'red points'

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Latest on Sunday's presidential election in Venezuela (all times local):1:01...

Bruce Poinsette of The Skanner News

Researchers at Washington State University are challenging the widespread belief that private prisons can help job growth in rural counties.

In a new paper, "Prisons, Jobs and Privatization: The Impact of Prisons on Employment Growth in Rural U.S. Counties, 1997-2004," they say that privatization of prisons, in fact, often has a negative impact on their host counties.

"What we found is that when a new prison opens in a rural county, they tend to have fewer jobs instead of more," says Gregory Hooks, a WSU sociology professor. "There is no evidence of private prisons being statistically significant in terms of job growth but we did find that states embracing privatization went the other way."

Hooks, along with co-authors Shaun Genter and Clayton Mosher, used Bureau of Justice data to compare rural counties in states pursuing privatization to those that aren't. Over the last 20-30 years, there has been a disproportionate number of prisons built in rural counties, he says.

According to Hooks, proponents of private prisons often tout efficiency and potential job growth as reasons to embrace these institutions.

"When a state government rapidly chooses to build new prisons and has them run privately or turns over the management of current public prisons to private prisons, that sets in the motion the race to the bottom in terms of employment patterns, salaries, total staffing ratios, corrections personnel vs. prisoners and so forth," he says. "Remaining publically managed prisons have to look like private ones or else they're at risk to become privatized. That's very much one of the selling points of private prisons. That's very much a selling point of politicians that endorse privatization. They think that it will discipline and make efficient the public bureaucracy."

Hooks says that there are sharp differences between private and public prisons in terms of salary, benefits and the turnover rate.

The study says that, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median annual wage for correctional officers employed by the federal government was $50,830. Officers employed by state governments  earned $38,850 and those employed by local governments earned $37,510. In comparison, officers employed in private prisons earned a median salary of $28,790.

The number of jobs per 100 prisoners is also lower for private prisons and states that pursue privatization.

Gregory Hooks
 

Nationally, the annual employee turnover rate for private prisons is 52 percent, compared to 12 to 25 percent for public prisons, according to Hooks.

Although the private prison industry has grown rapidly over the last couple of decades, the violent crime rate has actually gone down, says Hooks. Specifically, he notes that the murder rate has declined significantly.

"While that number has been declining, the number of people being locked up is through the roof," says Hooks. "I'm be in favor of less violent crime but it's not clear that's what's going on with incarceration. The United States is the most incarcerated place on earth. There are more people locked up in the United States than all of China."

Hooks points to the War on Drugs as a major contributing factor. Between 1980 and 2000, the incarceration rate nearly tripled, despite the homicide rate declining by nearly 50 percent. There are around two million people currently incarcerated and around five million on probation or parole. Most are serving time for nonviolent offenses, many of which are drug related.

Ironically, Hooks says resources used to fund prison growth were diverted from education. In a previous study, he and another WSU doctoral student found that community colleges helped local employment growth in host counties most years between 1976 and 1997.

Besides educating students for future careers, a community college also has the "spillover effect" of creating jobs for staff and faculty and increasing consumption of goods from local vendors, says Hooks.

He notes that community college can be a rite of passage for many and without it, institutions like prisons can fill that role.

"Most people commit most their crimes between the ages of 16-24," says Hooks. "That's also when you might go to college. Community college is one way for people to transition to adulthood and so is the prison."

According to his research, the number of 18-24 year olds grew steadily between 1967 and 1980. However, the U.S. still made investments in education to meet this demand.

The war on drugs, he says, reversed this course. During this period, the number of 18-24 year olds declined. In addition, the cost of education has gone up because of lack of public funding, making it even harder for young people to receive an education. According to Hooks, it can cost a state from five to ten times as much money to lock someone up as it would to support him/her through community college.

"The imagery is so vivid of a country that is making it easier for your transition to adulthood to come with a felony conviction and the stigma that goes with it and a bit harder for you to transition to adulthood with an education credential."

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