Public hearing brings people out for Coolidge prison

By Joey Chenoweth

Coolidge Examiner

Corrections Director Chuck Ryan, middle, speaks to a packed house at a public hearing Monday night. / Staff photo by Joey Chenoweth

With a final decision less than a month away, the Arizona Department of Corrections held a public hearing in the Coolidge City Council chambers to hear the final pitch from city officials and the public on why they should choose Coolidge as the site for a new 1,000-bed, medium-security prison.

And whereas the public hearing held here last year brought both sides of the debate to the microphone, Monday’s event revealed an apparently unanimous support for the facility, as a majority of the people in the audience were wearing T-shirts stating “Coolidge: Still The Right Choice.”

Members of the Department of Corrections committee in charge of choosing the site, including department director Chuck Ryan, sat in the chair normally reserved for councilmembers in front of a packed chamber. First, Ryan let the audience know that there will be hearings for all the remaining seven site candidates, including one in Florence and one in Eloy, with a final decision of the winning candidate by August 31.

Management and Training Corporation, the company who will own the private facility, then gave a presentation promoting the credentials and values of the company. MTC’s representatives particularly emphasized their history of training underprivileged people to have skills that will lead to future employment, which led to their prison rehabilitation program, which aims to educate inmates to be better qualified for the workforce. They also emphasized their economic impact, which includes an extra $300,000 in tax money to the city and 200 construction jobs.


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August 2012