I guess it pays to have a former lobbyist for the private prison industry as a key advisor to the Arizona Governor, because then you get more shit like this:
The state Department of Corrections plans Friday to award a private prison contract for 1,000 medium-security beds for men, citing a lack of beds for violent offenders and a projected increase in the overall inmate population. AZ RepublicWell, no, there is no "lack of beds for violent offenders"; in fact, there's a surplus of about 2,000 beds right now, with no real "projected increase" in sight:
The contract comes even though the state's overall prison population is expected to remain flat the next two years and increase only slightly thereafter... Corrections records also show that in fiscal 2011 there were 296 fewer prisoners than the previous year, and this past fiscal year that ended June 30, there were 304 fewer inmates for a total of 39,877. AZ RepublicSee, the private prison honchos planned for a lot more "customers" once SB 1070 went into effect—a law they helped to write and pass. With all those cops required to question anyone who looked a little too brown, the prison industry expected a flood of new inmates, if only to hold them before Arizona shipped their sorry asses south. Pushing hard for the law's passage were two top officials in Governor Jan Brewer's administration, who also happened to be lobbyists for the Corrections Corporation of America:
State lobbying records show two of her top advisers—her spokesman Paul Senseman and her campaign manager Chuck Coughlin—are former lobbyists for private prison companies. NPR
Couglin is still there pulling strings—the "shadow governor" some call him. But then a funny thing happened: after Brewer signed the "papers please" bill, almost immediately a federal judge blocked its nastiest parts, and even the Supreme Court tossed out some of its worst elements this year. Oops, so now the industry had to invent yet another story to sell the public, like this "lack of beds" and "projected increase" garbage.
Arizona's public and media started to pay attention to the private-prison fiasco in July 2010, when three inmates escaped from a for-profit facility in Kingman, Arizona, which led to the murder of an Oklahoma couple and shined a bright light on the terrible security measures at many private prisons:
Security flaws of the same types as in the Kingman escape were found across the entire Arizona prison system, according to records obtained by The Arizona Republic through Freedom of Information requests. AZ RepublicNot only are many for-profit facilities less secure, they're more expensive. Recent studies show that the private prison industry isn't living up to it's "cost-effective business model" bullshit.
The most recent information available shows the average daily cost per inmate in a state-run medium-custody facility in 2010 was $48.42, while the average daily cost for an inmate in a similar private facility was $53.02. That translates into a 9.5 percent higher cost per inmate for a private prison. AZ RepublicWhen it became apparent that the "invisible hand" of incarceration is indeed more expensive than the public model, the industry, in cahoots with politicians like Rep. John Kavanaugh, tried to cover up the findings:
Documents recently obtained by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) show that the state of Arizona deliberately circumvented and ultimately repealed a state law requiring private for-profit prison corporations to demonstrate cost savings in their bids on new prison contracts. These records reveal that the state was aware that existing private prison contracts were not saving the state money–despite state laws requiring private prison contractors to deliver such savings. Tucson CitizenI wrote about the repeal of that law in May, when the awkward (for the industry) reports surfaced, and asshat legislators like Kavanaugh, who's dipped his greedy paws into the industry's cookie jar, ended the requirement that for-profit prisons undergo a thorough review each year, because he and the private prison industry didn't like the findings!
Buried in the $8.6 billion budget proposal passed at the state Capitol this week is a plan to "eliminate the requirement for a quality and cost review of private prison contracts." It means there would no longer be an annual review of how private prisons operate. CBS5Even Republican Rep. Cecil Ash of Mesa is not impressed by the private-prison industry's sucky track record and high costs:
"Private prisons are the wrong business model," Ash said. "They are in the business for profit. The problem is most legislators just don't pay attention to this issue. Inmates don't vote, and the public doesn't see the inmates. They are out of sight, out of mind." AZ RepublicTo recap: private prisons cost more, they're less safe and secure, their work is far less transparent, and Arizona doesn't need the extra beds. All the same, we'll shell out tens of millions more for expensive, unsafe, unnecessary facilities—while schools, libraries, hospitals, and social services go begging for the scraps. I guess it really does pay to have your man at the governor's elbow—with his bag of campaign contributions.
[T]he for-profit prison industry is getting a contract because it has exercised its political muscle in Arizona by hiring a cadre of lobbyists and made campaign contributions to influential legislators. AZ Republic