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A corporation that runs a private prison in the state of Montana recently offered the state $30 million to “help out” with the state’s budget shortfall. However, when we look at this "deal," the proverb, “If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is,” applies here.

A budget crisis is not the time to be pushing an unrelated, sweetheart deal with CoreCivic, which operates private prisons across the country. That’s bad enough. Simply out, private prisons are a bad investment. In their quest for profits, they pay guards poorly, offer subpar health care to prisoners, and provide little in the way of retraining and education to prevent inmates from offending again. Private prisons have a profit incentive to keep prisoners as long as possible, which is probably why they have higher rates of violence than public facilities. Private prisons aren’t just morally wrong, they also provide worse results at a higher cost.

In recognition of this, the state of Montana wants to buy out CoreCivic’s 600-bed private prison in Shelby and has been paying money into an escrow account in order to do just that. The $30 million balance of that account is sufficient to complete the sale when the current contract with CoreCivic expires in 2019.

That is the $30 million that CoreCivic is “willing to contribute” to the state. That $30 million is our money. Their price for giving us our money back? We would have to renew their contract on terms favorable to them.

This is more than a no, it's a heck no.

Rep. Tom Woods

Rep. Woods is Chairman of the House Democrats and a candidate for U.S. Congress