Southeast Missouri's newest industry will soon be open for business. The new maximum-security prison at Charleston was officially dedicated Friday paving the way for inmates to soon populate the $72 million facility.
Prisons are controversial by their very nature. Sikeston many years ago was one of a handful of potential prison sites but local opposition took us out of the running fairly early. Mississippi County has suffered - as have many others - in recent years with declining population and jobs. The new Southeast Correctional Center will solve many of those problems.
First and foremost, the prison is a secure and safe facility. Let's get that discussion out of the way right from the very beginning. The facility will eventually house nearly 1,600 inmates. And many of those future residents are perhaps not the best citizens. But the facility is state-of-art and will be an exceptional addition to the economy of Southeast Missouri.
The Charleston facility for a number of reasons has been fortunate. A state money crunch has delayed the completion of a similar facility in Bonne Terre but the Charleston prison was able to arrive on time and budget.
The state of Missouri has already acknowledged that prisons are growth industries here. Our prison population is projected to grow just as other states are projecting. That says something about our society indeed. But taking advantage of this situation, communities like Charleston now will boast a new major employer. Many Sikeston residents will also bring dollars back to our community from work at the Charleston facility.
The Charleston prison is the 13th new facility completed in the past decade. We hope it becomes a source of pride for this region as it brings some much-needed revenue to our economy.