So titled is an article in yesterday’s News Progressconcerning potential federal interest in a Virginia state prison that closed earlier this year due to economic pressures:
Representatives of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) paid a visit recently to the site of the former Mecklenburg Correctional Center (MCC) as part of a nationwide effort to reduce crowding at federal prisons.
A nod to the former MCC as a future site for a federal prison would result in a reversal of the hard hit sustained by the Town of Boydton, which suffered a swift and seemingly permanent one-two punch just weeks before Christmas of 2011 when Governor Bob McDonnell announced the prison would close in May of this year.
According to a February story in the South Hill Enterprise, local interest in having the federal government purchase the facility started soon after the governor’s announcement:
The Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors has hopes that the soon-to-be empty Mecklenburg Correctional Center could become part of the federal prison system. At their Monday meeting, the Supervisors passed a resolution supporting efforts to interest the federal government in making use of the Mecklenburg facility.[…]
Contacted on Monday afternoon, Coleman said the idea was sparked by a recent article in the Wall Street Journal detailing overcrowding in the federal system. Coleman pointed out that MCC is in operational condition and has recently had over $1 million spent on facility improvements, has a ready and trained workforce available, has ample room for expansion, is located between existing federal facilities in Petersburg and Butner, N.C. and is a community that would have no objection to a prison located in the area.
Carter told the Supervisors that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has been contacted about the possibility of incorporating the former state prison into the federal system.
“The Federal Bureau of Prisons is interested,” said Carter. “They don’t have the funds to build a facility but the state could work with the federals on this.”
The moral of the story: where cash-strapped states are no longer able to afford the vicious cycle of incarceration resulting from the “tough on crime” policies began in the 1980s, the federal government, which shows little sign of slowing, let alone stopping or reversing, prison growth, is ready to step in and fill the void.