Lettie Hellman is a native of Colorado's Western Slope. Since the mid-1980s she has promoted prisons for Delta County. Her husband, Bill, also a proponent of prisons, runs an auto dealership in the town of Delta, population 4,000.
"I'm not crazy about
seeing a great amount of growth here, but we need two or three
good, solid industries. The coal industry doesn't provide as many
jobs as it used to. Prison jobs can help the situation; they are
"If we had an industry that
offered the same kind of longevity (and) that was clean like
prisons, I would be the first one in line. Our problem is that
businesses are not knocking on our door to come here, and every
county is going after them. We just don't have a lot of the
amenities that you need to attract some of the high-tech kinds of
businesses. It's unfortunate, but it's a fact of
"People who live in the area of prisons
understand them. They realize they're safer there than anywhere
else. When you have multiple prisons, your area is full of law
enforcement and the crime rate is low.
wouldn't care if there was a prison across the street from my
house. I have a brother who lives in Springfield, Mo., directly
across from a federal prison. It's a family neighborhood. Small
children. When I visit him I go to sleep there and don't give it a
"The opponents of prisons feed
off the emotionalism of the subject without looking at the facts.
Prisons aren't the boogeyman to me. We haven't had one person
harmed by the prison. You can't say that about
"Those who oppose prisons should
spend their energy on changing society and the moral situation that
make prisons necessary. That would be a benefit to us all. People
need to go out there to the (Delta County Correctional) Facility
and see what it is like before they criticize it. It's superbly
managed; the inmates provide the county with millions of dollars of
"If someone has all the facts and they are
still opposed to prisons ... well, God bless them."