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How Not in My Backyard Became Please in My Backyard: Toward a Model of Prison Placement

How Not in My Backyard Became Please in My Backyard: Toward a Model of Prison Placement

Chapter:
(p.87) Five How Not in My Backyard Became Please in My Backyard: Toward a Model of Prison Placement
Source:
Big House on the Prairie
Author(s):
John M. Eason
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226410487.003.0005

I highlight the prison placement process using the case of the FCFCF. I build a theory of prison placement, suggesting that a community’s willingness to accept a stigmatized institution depends on characteristics of both the community and the institution. Surprisingly, despite the negative stigma associated with prisons, rural community leaders produce a groundswell of support by framing the prison as a way to save the community from continued economic decline. While having a rural ghetto could be a sufficient impetus for securing a prison, the case of Forrest City suggests at least two other necessary conditions. First, local white elites must want the prison and exercise social capital to acquire the facility. Second, local black/ Latino leadership must also support (or at least not oppose) the decision. These interlocking interests form the basis for a growth coalition between white elites and race leaders. While I am not suggesting that these otherwise contentious groups are sharing power, my case study suggests that race leaders are co-opted for their public support.

Keywords:   growth coalition, white elites, race leaders

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