In his May 26 column ["Seeing the Good a Prison Could Bring," Metro], Courtland Milloy quotes Ward 8 prison proponent Joyce Scott in an anecdote about being invited to speak to the Green Party. Scott claims she was interrupted in the middle of her remarks in support of the prison's construction.
Scott has never attended a D.C. Green Party meeting, nor has she ever been invited to speak before us. Perhaps she confuses us with another organization that, like the Greens, opposes the private prison. (The Greens, democratic to a fault, would not have tolerated the rude, ad hominem interruption of someone invited to speak, or of anyone else holding the floor.)
Milloy mentions the "variety of enviromentalists and no-growth advocates" who oppose the Ward 8 private prison. The D.C. Greens object on broader grounds than environmental ones, and we're certainly not anti-growth. The Greens advocate sustainable growth, development that benefits D.C. neighborhoods instead of driving people out, which is why we support a split-rate tax plan to reward owners who improve their properties and penalize those who permit deterioration. It's why we've opposed the new convention center, the proposed Massachusetts Avenue ballpark and monster parking garage and other schemes to displace residents, congest our streets and let money drain away into the coffers of outside-of-D.C. corporations.
The Greens oppose the private prison industry categorically. By privatizing prisons, the District would create a class of investors who draw profit from the incarceration of inmates. Private prison deals establish a financial stake in filling the maximum number of cells -- i.e., in criminalizing as many people as possible. We've already sacrificed too many young men in the District, usually African American or Latino, often first-time offenders convicted on nonviolent drug charges, who come out of incarceration hardened, unrehabilitated criminals.
The Greens support alternative community-service sentencing and rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders. Such a program would help integrate alienated would-be criminals back into society and would ultimately prove a lot less expensive than shipping our tax dollars and the future of a generation to the Corrections Corporation of America.
-- Scott McLarty
The writer was a Green Party candidate for D.C. Council in Ward 1 in the 1998 election.