Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Private Prisons Cost Arizona $3.5 Million More Per Year Than State-Run Prisons

Private prisons, touted as a cost-efficient alternative to state-run penitentiaries, are not living up to their promises in at least one state. A new study of Arizona’s private prisons finds that the state is actually losing money — $3.5 million a year — by turning their inmates over to for-profit corporations.

According to the Tucson Citizen’s analysis of Arizona’s three oldest private prison contracts, the rate to hold one prisoner for one night has increased 13.9% since the contracts were awarded. Compared to the cost of state-run prisons, Arizona overpaid for its private prison beds by $10 million between 2008 and 2010.

The cost of these private prison contracts was no surprise to the legislators who awarded them. In an earlier investigation, the Citizen discovered the Legislature was well aware how expensive the private prisons were and simply circumvented a law requiring corporations to show cost savings before receiving a contract. In 2012, the Legislature repealed the requirement entirely — as well as a requirement that the state conduct a review comparing the quality of private and public prisons.

After removing any incentive to maintain facilities, the Legislature made things even easier for these corporations by guaranteeing their prisons will always be 100 percent occupied:

Read on...

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