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Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 01/ 3/2011

New Va. prison has no prisoners

By Elizabeth Flock

A brand-new, $105 million prison in Grayson County, Va., has zero prisoners four months after its completion, the Roanoke Times reported Sunday.

The state budget crunch has kept the 1,024-bed complex empty, said Larry Traylor, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Corrections.

After the General Assembly did not appropriate money that the agency expected last year, the Corrections Department trimmed its $1 billion budget and got rid of almost 2,500 prison beds. Traylor estimates that the department is facing a fiscal 2012 budget reduction of $10.9 million.

Virginia's inmate population nearly doubled after the state passed Truth in Sentencing/no parole legislation in 1995, leading to tougher sentences. Last year, however, the state saw its first drop in inmates, losing 195 prisoners for a total of about 38,000.

Traylor said that the new prison could remain empty for two years or longer. Taxpayers will have to pay $715,000 this year to keep it running.

By Elizabeth Flock  | January 3, 2011; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety, Elizabeth Flock, Virginia  
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Comments

shouldn't be hard to fill if we round up all the illegals...perhaps Va could lease the prison to the feds...

Posted by: 10bestfan | January 3, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

lease it out for raves, concerts, weddings, flea markets. hold conferences and summer camps for kids there. you could also use it for a film set.

Posted by: MarilynManson | January 3, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

@10bestfan: Aside from your xenophobic comments, do you realize that by arresting and housing illegal immigrants that the government will be paying for their room and board, food, exercise equipment, water, electricity, etc. at absolutely no cost to them? At least when they're working in the field they're supporting themselves and their families independently.

Posted by: crzytwnman | January 3, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

crzytwnman... Illegals are depriving Americans of jobs...Are you an American? Do you know of an American in need of a job or and American who is under-employed?...or have you been living under a rock? The Illegals housed at the prison would be on their way out of the country, and would be deported pronto...and who says they should be permitted to use any exercise equipment?...or recreational facilities?

Posted by: 10bestfan | January 3, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Close Guantanamo and put 'em there. At least some rural Virginians will get jobs guarding them.

Posted by: Dan4 | January 3, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Agree with Dan4. Bring them from Guantanamo and put 'em in Virginia. Or contract with a nearby state or DC and set up a remote storage facility for inmates in those areas.

Posted by: AHappyWarrior | January 3, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Well if it's closed because there are no inmates then why are we the taxpayers paying to keep it running??? RUNNING??? what is actually going on there? Please someone answer that!!!

Posted by: papaskynz | January 3, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

coulda built a road with that money

Posted by: blasmaic | January 3, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

"Illegals are depriving Americans of jobs..” -10bestfan | January 3, 2011 12:51 PM

Hardly. Illegals are doing jobs Americans refuse to do. American Corporations are depriving Americans of jobs by outsourcing it out to other countries and, in some cases, actually relocating to other tax haven countries with cheap labor. Time to take the xenophobic medicine and put the blame where it belongs. Having said all that, I do understand that there is a problem with immigration, but I also recognized that most of those “illegals” are providing a service that no Americans want to do - How many of you would like to pick grapes for 12 hours and get pay less than minimum wages and be treated like dirt? That is just one example.

Posted by: isthatallthereis | January 3, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, I guess the idea of 'Build it, and they will come' is not working out that well.

Posted by: kernunnos1367 | January 3, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

isthatallthereis -I agree that corporations have exported a number of jobs, and outsourcing needs to be addressed. I suspect most Americans would not work for less than minimum wage..which is why it's called the 'minimum wage'.So why do we allow employers to outsource and to to hire Illegals? Maybe if we heavily fine the companies who outsource and put the employers of illegals in the prison, that should be part of a better solution.

Posted by: 10bestfan | January 3, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

If I remember right, this tough 1995 Federal Law came about as part of the Republican takeover of congress. At the time I said that this would end up costing us tons of money just to keep a pot smoker in prison for 5 years. It was a stupid law then and now even more stupid as tax payers are strapped with paying for a 100 million dollar prison and then paying to keep it empty (that part not being so bad). People always complain about not having tough enough laws then complain that they have to pay to take care of inmates that the new laws create for our prison system. Politicians play the game and the public never seems to understand what the end result of their games are.

Posted by: jrussell1 | January 3, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I guess the Post didn't feel like using the AP story scooped by the Roanoke Times over the weekend on this....Way to use the others' news, WashPost.

Posted by: slydell | January 3, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, and Va had no idea the inmate population was dropping before they built this multimillion dollar institution? If not, then they are totally irresponsible. One of the reasons tax payers must pay for an empty building is utilities, and although its new, you must maintain things such as plumbing, and complex engineering mechanics installed for security purposes that require routine maintenance, & the salaries of those providing that service. Even a new empty building costs, just not as much as if it were occupied. The problem is that the longer it sits, the more it may end up costing. Not to worry, now that this info has been made public, they will begin to ship inmates from other Va locals to fill a bed or two....

Posted by: awfulexcuse1 | January 3, 2011 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"Aside from your xenophobic comments, do you realize that by arresting and housing illegal immigrants that the government will be paying for their room and board, food, exercise equipment, water, electricity, etc. at absolutely no cost to them?"

"Imprisonment": it's a concept.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | January 3, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

"Aside from your xenophobic comments, do you realize that by arresting and housing illegal immigrants that the government will be paying for their room and board, food, exercise equipment, water, electricity, etc. at absolutely no cost to them?"

"Imprisonment": it's a concept.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | January 3, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

isthatallthereis | January 3, 2011 1:13 PM
"I also recognized that most of those 'illegals' are providing a service that no Americans want to do - How many of you would like to pick grapes for 12 hours and get pay less than minimum wages and be treated like dirt?"

I have not heard a more cogent argument for the slavery that we force upon the illegal immigrant populations since the Democrats made the same statements supporting Slavery in the lead up to the Civil War. It being cogent does not make it any more correct, or moral.

At least you Democrats are good at holding to your party line, even 150+ years after Americans fought and died to end your inhumane cruelty. Thank you for reminding us of your true nature, once again.

Posted by: waterloom | January 3, 2011 3:29 PM | Report abuse

rent it out for the money

Posted by: JeroRobson1 | January 3, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

"Aside from your xenophobic comments, do you realize that by arresting and housing illegal immigrants that the government will be paying for their room and board, food, exercise equipment, water, electricity, etc. at absolutely no cost to them?"

"Imprisonment": it's a concept.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale

What's the difference? That's what we already do for most.

Posted by: citigreg | January 3, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

They don't have to worry by the end of the month it will be full.

Posted by: MsSexy4Life | January 3, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

They don't have to worry by the end of the month it will be full.

Posted by: MsSexy4Life | January 3, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I think renting the space to North Carolina would make sense.

And good for Virginia for reducing jail populations. We should also legalize weed, release the stoners. We would need less correctional officers then as well. Maybe they can go work as bouncers at the newly opened hashish bars! I kid.. mostly.

Then maybe jail can be what it should be... rehab/education centers for mid-level criminals, not "for-profit" Crime Schools.

Posted by: EK3000 | January 3, 2011 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Prison costs can be reduced to a minimum by employing the "HOLE METHOD" of prison management.

This approach features a rather featureless and comfortless warehouse-type of shelter, and is operated on the "hole" principle.

This simple no-nonsense methodology provides prisoners the bare minimum food, drink, bathing water, medicines, and waste removal -- all funneled to and from each secure single-inmate cell via a tube-fed hole, which conveys the items for sustenance from outside the main prison facility.

For example, "food" is washed through the pipe to the hole, which opens onto the cell floor, which is slanted slightly toward the hole. Fifteen minutes later, water is released into the hole, washing the uneaten food around the floor, and serving as the inmate's drinking fluid, which is scooped up in the cupped hands.

At a set time each day, the prisoner knows to squat over the hole to relieve him- or herself, and five minutes later more water is piped in to wash the stuff around and back into the hole and through the funnel to outside the prison proper when it empties into a giant cesspool.

This process is repeated twice daily, and the cost per day is estimated at $3.00, including food, drink, and waste matter "management."

If the prisoner wishes a shower, he/she knows to lay on the floor after meals next to the hole to soak up as much standing water as possible before it flows beck into the hole.

[All of this simple process is activated and controlled by a single "facilitator," who has practical plumbing experience.]

Once a month, the facilitator releases a really powerful blast of water into the cell to cleanse away the mess and whatever.

The "hole" method!

And this revolutionary approach requires only the repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to get it started, and it can save American taxpayers more than $180 billion per year. No guards, no medical personnel except in cases of death, no amenities, just real, good old fashioned punishment, to which few prisoners would ever wish to return.

And regular guided tours of the cells and their pouty prisoners will be conducted for nominal fees aimed at defraying the cost of water and hole maintenance. Masks and ponchos can be rented for a small fee.

[NOTE: The prison will not be responsible in cases of prisoner-tossed feces or other acts of insubordination.]

Hey -- If you think this method could help your local or state prison system, write your congressman today!

Posted by: kinkysr | January 3, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Convert it into a hotel for rich people. They'll pay whatever rate you wanna charge. Just put in a golf course on a nearby green. Install a spa near the shower area. Convert the dining hall into a cafe and theatre. Hey, a lot of them belong in jail, anyway. Might as well make them pay for their stay, too.

Posted by: fbutler1 | January 3, 2011 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: jrussell1:
If I remember right, this tough 1995 Federal Law came about as part of the Republican takeover of congress.
---------------------------
The article refers to a Virginia state law that eliminated parole. The Va legislature was controlled by the Democrats.

Posted by: baileyfx | January 3, 2011 7:23 PM | Report abuse

isthatallthereis | January 3, 2011 1:13 PM
"I also recognized that most of those 'illegals' are providing a service that no Americans want to do - How many of you would like to pick grapes for 12 hours and get pay less than minimum wages and be treated like dirt?"

I have not heard a more cogent argument for the slavery that we force upon the illegal immigrant populations since the Democrats made the same statements supporting Slavery in the lead up to the Civil War. It being cogent does not make it any more correct, or moral.

At least you Democrats are good at holding to your party line, even 150+ years after Americans fought and died to end your inhumane cruelty. Thank you for reminding us of your true nature, once again.
------------------------------------

You are my hero.

Posted by: mcoghlan | January 3, 2011 9:43 PM | Report abuse

If your job is cleaning toilets and you are complaining about illegals taking it from you, go cry to the Billionaires who just got $125 Billion in tax cuts continued over the next two years. Maybe they have a urinal scrubbing job for you.

Posted by: Airborne82 | January 3, 2011 10:53 PM | Report abuse

The purpose of incarceration is to punish and rehabilitate so the offender does not re-offend. When this purpose is met, needs for imprisonment diminish and more and more beds can be eliminated. This usually causes an uproar from those whose jobs are related to imprisonment, with many facilities kept open in spite of the lack of need.

Now that alternative programs and diversion are in place and working in many states, prison beds are starting to empty. this is as it should be following years of get tough on crime and lock everyone up thinking.

Prison facilities often have prison industries attached that are used to mfg products using inmate labor. It's not just outsourcing that has resulted in lost civilian jobs - Insourcing is also a big contributor (moving manufacturing inside prisons to use cheap prison labor - thus eliminating private sector jobs). the federal PIECP program is responsible for this transition of private jobs to prisoners.

The laws created by state lawmakers over the past two or three decades have caused the huge prison populations of today: 3 strikes, truth in sentencing, mandatory minimum drug and gun sentences. Most of these laws were initiated by conservatives through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and were to benefit private prison corporate members (CCA and Geo Group). We now see the end result of their effort of enriching themselves off of incarceration and prison labor.

Conservatives are now reaping what was sown over the years. Maybe CCA will buy the facility from Va. and rescue the taxpayers.

Posted by: gndlf1 | January 4, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

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