TPMMuckraker investigates the sad story of Hardin, Mont., a town so desperate for jobs it fell for a private prison scheme that left it with a big empty jail and a load of debt. You know you’re in trouble when you have to beg the state to send you sex offenders. —PZS
Hardin itself didn’t make out nearly so well. Not a single inmate has ever slept in the jail, and the town hasn’t seen a cent of revenue from the project.
The bonds, which were to be paid back through the anticipated—but non-existent—revenue, have gone into default. The prison “was built on spec,” says Taylor, the muni bond expert, who has looked at the Hardin deal. “[The consortium’s] whole premise was hell, we don’t care what happens to the bonds.”
That’s left Hardin with an empty jail that it so desperately wanted to fill that it begged first for sex offenders from the state, then for Gitmo inmates from the Feds, and, finally, for some kind of salvation from the American Private Police Force.