Residents, commissioners, kill SSC prison proposal
By 12/11/2003 00:00:00
The Superconducting Super Collider won't be turning into a prison anytime soon
The Ellis County Press
WAXAHACHIE - Facing a packed courtroom Monday, Dec. 8, Ellis County Judge Chad Adams and four commissioners all but squashed a proposal from a Christian prison ministry firm that would have turned the SSC into a privately-run rehabilitation prison.
The facility would have been used for 'medium-security' property offenders with a year left before release or months before a parole date.
Nearly 300 inmates would be needed to keep the project afloat, said Bill Robinson, head of the Corrections Concepts Inc., the company seeking to land the deal.
Robinson told commissioners and citizens at the meeting such a facility would be the first of its kind in the United States, and would be the catalyst for President George W. Bush's faith-based social program plan. Those plans included having the Judeo-Christian communities serve as the provider for many government programs.
The programs, for both Robinson's CCI project and Bush's plan, would be voluntary. In other words, to avoid major constitutional issues, prisoners would have to sign an agreement to participate in the Christian-themed prison.
Many residents, though, said the thoughts of having a prison near their homes would make property values plummet.
In all, about a dozen people stood up and spoke, much to the dismay of county attorneys, who said they had never been to a commissioner's court meeting with so many people in attendance.
Robinson said he wanted to get Ellis County to pass a resolution in support of the project, which would have been paid for by a Public Facilities Corporation, a non-profit organization that would have authority to sell bonds to pay for infrastructure and buildings, another measure residents vehemently opposed.
The four commissioners said they would not vote for the project, and Adams said he would not address the issue again unless one of the commissioners specifically requested it be on the agenda.
Adams also said the CCI proposal and a recent law allowing for Waxahachie to annex the SSC was a coincidence.
He said he became aware of the project, which he called a 'back-entry' deal, after an early morning meeting with CCI officials and the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce last week. Adams said, in part, that he was 'hit' with two things at once, one being the CCI plan, and the other being a barrage of residents' reaction.