Active learning 3 discussion 2

Learning Goal: I’m working on a writing question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.


(Kody Farmer )

Decision making, both rational and non-rational, have been a part of the human experience since the dawn of time. You have people who look out for their community, place their personal interests behind that of others, and analyze the different alternative plans, as well as the consequences of those alternatives. One the other hand, you have people who make non-rational decisions that are to promote their politics or self-interests. This was no more prevalent in the Mini-Case: The Pocatello Prison Siting Story: A Case of Politics. The premise was that Idaho made the determination that they needed more housing for women inmates and had to make the decision on how and where to construct it. Many different cities throughout Idaho placed bids to secure something that would bring numerous “recession-proof” jobs. However, the decision would not be simple. As outlined below, the location came about by political moves and non-rational decision-making.

Policy making for any organization is stressful in itself, butwhen you factor in the process of rational, or non-rational, decision-making becomes even harder. Do you look out for your own best interests? Do you look at the benefits of the community at large, often putting your own goals on the back burner? Have you considered all the ramifications for the created policy, or other alternatives that could have a better outcome? These were the questions that plagued Idaho in the early 1990’s when they were attempting to locate the best place to establish a new women’s prison (Clemons, 2020).

Rational decision-making, and non-rational (political) decision making is a constant threat in the United States. Politicians will grant favors for those who have promoted their interests in an election, or other means of personal gain. This is the definition of non-rational decision making. One of the most notable periods of time when an abundance of non-rational decision/policy making was in the 1920’s (Was the 1920’s, 2015). In January of 1920, the 18th amendment was added to the constitution, which was proposed two years earlier, and labeled The Volstead Act of 1919 (Was the 1920’s, 2015). This act legally banned the sale, manufacture, and transportation of intoxicating liquids. Because a high number of citizens were against the act, and still wanted to consume alcohol, organized crime started bootlegging alcohol to people in every socioeconomical standing (Was the 1920’s, 2015). Politicians were not exempt. Whether a politician was running on the local, regional, state, or federal position, would all have some form of authority when it came to alcohol. This is what corrupted many of the politicians into making deals with these organized crime syndicates. In exchange for their votes and/or influence in the community, the politicians would return the favor by looking the other way when it came to the criminal handling of alcohol (Was the 1920’s, 2015). This is a textbook case of non-rational decision making because the actions of the politicians were beneficial to them, not the community at large. This statement was reenforced when speaking of non-rational decision making by the politicians not thinking of alternative methods of getting votes, or the legal issues that were (inevitably) come along with the practice. Rational decision-making is much easier to define, but not necessarily to find.

Rational decision-making incorporates the financially responsible choices, what is best for the community, and other decisions that the public would expect people to make, even if that means making a decision that would benefit those persons more. Rational decision-making also explores all the possible consequences, good or bad, of the chosen path, and then they compare that to any other alternative solutions to ensure that they were making the best decision (Clemons, 2020). An example for this would be if a CEO of a company decided to retire early (Hayes, 2020). While it is less financially beneficial to retire early, if the stresses of work outweighed the benefits, financially, retiring early would be the rational choice (Hayes, 2020). These decisions are not made off impulse, nor made for political gain. A prime example of this would be when Idaho was attempting to locate the best place for the state to establish an all-women’s correctional facility in the late 1980’s.

Shortly before the plans to build a new women’s prison, Idaho was hit particularly hard by the recession. It was discussed on where the most logical palce to put the prison would be, rather that is close to a major city for the financial benefits of having big city resources, to simply creating additions to facilities that were already up and running. Both of these would be a rational choice simply because they would not create an entirely new system of positions that they have to fill (Clemons, 2020). The additional space built into the existing prison would create lower-level jobs that would need to be filled, however, they would not need to hire or replace the warden, administrator, or any other jobs that would tip the balance on if the additional space on the existing prison would be financially responsible as opposed to create another complete environment that would need to be staffed, trained, fingerprints ran, background checks run, and many other expenses that would arrive in creating the new prison (Clemons, 2020). Idaho, however, started taking bids from various locations throughout the state and the Idaho’s State Board of Corrections would take into account how the location of the prison would promote their personal, or professional, interests (Clemons, 2020). Pocatello was one such location.

Pocatello received one of the most detrimental blows to the economy during the recession in the 1980’s. Because of this, thousands of people lost their jobs, so they had no financial ability to put money back into their economy. The institution of a new prison would replace many of the new job openings that the recession took away from them. Since the people of Pocatello were desperate for jobs, an overwhelming majority of the population was in favor of the new prison. In fact, the population was so interested that they started spreading stories about how the institution of the new prison would benefit the economy by paying the population, who would put that money back in the community in one form or another (Clemons, 2020). Although the people of Pocatello began seeking the approval for the prison by rational means, this quickly changed. The Pocatello City Council decided on a property to the north that would house such a prison.

Once Pocatello decided on the property, they ran into their first issue that would turn this into a non-rational approach. The Environment Protection Agency (APD) informed Pocatello that the land that they had selected was deemed a “nonattainment” zone (Clemons, 2020). A nonattainment zone is defined as Any area that does not meet (or that contributes to ambient air quality in a nearby area that does not meet) the national primary or secondary ambient air quality standard (Ozone, 2021). This would mean that placing the prison there would go against the basic human rights to a healthy life. Depending how far away the air was for the “minimum standard,” one could argue that it could go against the 8th amendment as well (free from cruel and unusual punishment). Since the construction of the prison had already stretched for years, and the fact that Idaho did not want additional delays, Pocatello was removed from list of possible locations (Clemons, 2020). Once Pocatello was removed from the running, the Idaho Board of Corrections decided to place the prison on the outskirts of Boise. This led to Boise becoming more prosperous than it already was (Clemons, 2020). This would be another non-rational decision based on the failure to analyze all the alternatives and consequences. While it was a great thing for Boise to have a meteoric rise in population and development, Pocatello continued to disintegrate.

Another obvious reason that the decision to place the prison in Boise was to benefit the (then) Mayor Kempthorne. As this was seen as a “success story” that would undoubtably be seen favorable the next time he was up for election (Clemons, 2020). The pro-prison groups of Pocatello saw this as a devastating blow, and ended up sending the state legislative coalition to the capital to meet with Cecil Andrus (Governor of Idaho). The purpose of this meeting was to cash-in a favor that was referred to as a political IOU (Clemons, 2020). After much conversing, Mayor Kempthorne changed the location back to Pocatello due to the fact that they had been hit so hard by the recession, that the prison would, again, be moved back to Pocatello. The entirety of these events was purely political. Both the Governor and Mayor decided to make this decision to further their political careers, making the move of the prison a political decision against another non-rational decision that should not have been made in the first place.

Pocatello population was elated to have the prison back, but then they ran into another problem. The new proposed site of the prison was on Crusik Creek. This was unfortunate because, as pointed out by the local branch of the Sierra Club, was deemed safe from governmental development under the authority of the United States (Clemons, 2020). The key-issue for the interest group, the Sierra Club, were against the chosen location because that land was protected by the government against damaging development (Clemons, 2020). Because of this, the Sierra Club used it’s political ties with members of the United States House of Representatives to put loads of criticism for the location. This also outlined a classic case of non-rational decision-making. The Sierra Club, along with those members in the US House of Representatives, had a personal interest in blocking the location and they failed to see the benefits for the community at large (Clemons, 2020). This would also prove to be a potential, long-term, stall of building the prison, so Pocatello had to come up with a plan to get the metaphorical ball rolling.

Once of the solutions that the community of Pocatello arrived at was proposing was that the remainder of the area that was not going to be developed was to be legally declared safe from development. This was the beginning of one of the only rational decision-making in the last several years, concerning the Pocatello Prison. The Sierra Club made an agreement with Pocatello, and even if the Club had to lose part of their land, they would ensure the safety of the remainder of the land was worth the loss (Clemons, 2020). The Sierra Club agreed to the terms, thus creating a rational decision as the final one.

Although there were many years where every entity in the process was making non-rational decisions, in the end, rationality was victorious. Now Pocatello is in a more stable economy, the Sierra Club has protected land, the Idaho has a larger capacity to house female prisoners.

no less than 100 words ,respond to this persons discussion

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