CELLS PITCH

FARMERS IN SPRINGFIELD REVOLT AGAINST A PRIVATE-PRISON PLAN.

Despite a chronic shortage of cells, Colorado corrections officials have done little to encourage a prison in Springfield. Ron Ditmore, DOC's deputy director for administrative services, says the state can't guarantee it will send prisoners to such a facility, and it certainly doesn't plan to foot the bill for transporting inmates to and from a community that's closer to Amarillo, Texas, than it is to Denver.

Vaughn and the county commissioners got that news at a January 5 meeting in Colorado Springs attended by Hume and other citizen watchdogs ("We in essence invited ourselves," says Hume). Reached at his Indiana office, Vaughn acknowledges that the DOC reaction was "lukewarm" and says the Springfield proposal has accordingly been pared down to about 330 prisoners. He won't bother to refigure the project's total costs, he adds, unless voters give the green light on February 7.

Hume claims that community sentiment is slowly turning against the project as more information comes to light. "The tone of the first meeting started out real positive and ended up neutral to slightly skeptical," he says. The second meeting, he says, ended with the audience "decidedly skeptical."

Whatever residents decide, Self says the commissioners will respect their wishes. "We're not trying to pull anything over the people's eyes," he notes. But Hume says he's suspicious of what he describes as the commissioners' boosterish approach to importing felons.

He learned "some of the more basic tricks of the publicist's trade" during his days with the AAM, Hume notes. He and other critics plan to blanket the town with flyers and "keep punching" until the election. "I think we can kick their butts," says the farmer, "and that's sure what we're going to try to do.

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