Arizona State Rep. Calls on AG to Investigate For-Profit Prisonsby cell-out-arizona on Aug. 10, 2012, under AFSC, Arizona, Arizona Department of Corrections, Arizona State Legislature, Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group, Management and Training Corporation, private prison, Privatization, Public Hearings
State Legislator Chad Campbell (D-14) sent a letter two weeks ago to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne requesting an investigation into the state’s current contracts with private, for-profit prison corporations. The letter relies heavily on the findings in AFSC’s recent report on the for-profit prison industry in Arizona, Private Prisons: The Public’s Problem.
In the letter, Campbell cites alleged violations of:
- State law and individual contract provisions requiring proposed private prisons to demonstrate cost savings to the state
- State law requiring private prisons to provide the same or better quality than state prisons
- Contract provisions requiring private prisons to maintain safety standards and rehabilitate prisoners
- State uniform contract provisions requiring private prisons to provide adequate staffing levels
A more recent Cell Out Arizona investigation revealed that the state has known for some time that its private prisons are not saving money, so it recently repealed a state law requiring the corporations to demonstrate cost savings in their bids for new contracts. The legislature also repealed another section of the same law that requires the state to conduct a Biennial Comparison Review of the quality of the state’s private prisons every two years.
Rep. Campbell is a member of the Joint Committee on Capitol Review. The objectives and major products of the staff of the JCCR are to:
- Review the scope, purpose and cost of projects before releasing appropriations.
- Approve corrections facilities expenditures from the Corrections Fund.
Rep. Campbell asserts that he and other members of the JCCR cannot achieve these objectives without the data provided by the Biennial Comparison Reports. He states in the letter,
“Recent investigations have uncovered troubling evidence that state-contracted private prisons are not providing cost savings to the state and are not providing the same or better level of quality services. Therefore, it is necessary and prudent for the Attorney General to conduct an investigation in order to provide lawmakers with the information they need to make decisions about prison expenditures.”
The situation is particularly urgent because the state of Arizona is poised to award a new contract for 2,000 more medium-security prison beds to a for-profit prison corporation. The legislature has mandated that the contract be signed by September 1st. The legislature appropriated $16 million for the prison in FY 2015.
Both Managment and Training Corporation (MTC) and GEO Group are bidding on the proposed prison. Both currently operate state prisons and would therefore be the subjects of the investigation. In addition, Corrections Corporation of America, Emerald Corrections, and LaSalle have also submitted proposals.
Arizona Department of Corrections Director Chuck Ryan was asked about the investigation last night at a public hearing for one of these prison proposals, submitted by Corrections Corporation of America for the town of Eloy. When asked whether he would suspend the procurement to await the results of the Attorney General’s investigation, he stated flatly, “no.” When asked if he would confirm, on the record, that the Department was willing to give a multi-million dollar contract to a corporation that may be violating state law and/or the terms of its current contract, he replied that he would need to consult an attorney before responding.