This week The Nation features an editorial focused on the folly of private prisons in our infamous state of Arizona. Sasha Abramsky, who has written extensively on criminal justice and prison privatization issues, exposes the hypocrisy of our legislators: They say they want to save money and keep the public safe, but when faced with overwhelming evidence that our private prisons do neither of these things, their response is to eliminate the evidence. Once again, Arizona is a national embarrassment and an example of wasteful and capricious government hubris.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“One might think that, faced with evidence that the state isn’t getting enough bang for its buck, Arizona legislators would rethink their commitment to putting ever more prisoners into private facilities. Instead, in a move Orwellian even by the gutter standards of Arizona politics, they’ve simply tried to bar the state from collecting the evidence. On February 27 the legislature proposed a budget bill eliminating the requirement for a cost and quality review of private prison contracts. According to the AFSC, “The move would ensure that the public would have no way of knowing whether the state’s private prisons are saving money, rehabilitating prisoners, or ensuring public safety.”
That’s right, the state legislature has just said, “We don’t care.” They don’t care if these prisons are safe and they don’t care if they are wasting millions of dollars of your money. BUT YOU SHOULD CARE.
Recent reports have revealed that private prisons in Arizona cost more overall than equivalent state-operated prison units. Safety inspection data has revealed widespread safety problems, including malfunctioning cameras and alarms—the same kinds of problems that led to the escapes from Kingman in 2010. The people of this state simply can’t afford the legislature’s willful ignorance on this issue.
Besides, why wouldn’t they want to know if private prisons are actually saving money?
Why wouldn’t they want to know if these facilities are safe?
Why wouldn’t they want to know if people are being rehabilitated?
We sincerely hope that the voters and taxpayers of Arizona will let the legislators who drafted this “Don’t Bother Me with the Facts” Budget know how they feel about it.