Research and Background Materials on Prison Privatization

In the wake of the escapes of three prisoners from a privately-operated prison in August of 2010 and the murder of a New Mexico couple by one escapee and an accomplice, Arizona legislators called for hearings to investigate what went wrong.  But no legislative hearings were ever held.  In response, through public hearings and exhaustive research, AFSC has done the “due diligence” on prison privatization that the state legislature has refused to do.   

Below you will find various links and reports on prison privatization.

Arizona Department of Corrections Private/Public Prison Cost Comparison, 2009. Compares public and private prison costs.  Concludes that private prisons in Arizona are actually more expensive than public prisons. 

Arizona Auditor General’s Performance Audit of the Arizona Department of Corrections.  Reviews prison population growth statistics and projections, and presents several options, contrasting expanding the prison system through privatization with cost-cutting measures designed to reduce the prison population. 

State of Hawaii Auditor’s Report on CCA Prisons in Arizona, December, 2010.   CCA Houses prisoners from the state of Hawaii in its Saguaro facility in Eloy, Arizona.  Reports that CCA “chooses to report artificial cost figures derived from a calculation based on a flawed methodology.”

Austin, James and Garry Coventry, “Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons, US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, February 2001.  Found that, “Privately operated facilities have a significantly lower staffing level than publicly operated prisons and lack MIS support.  They also report a significantly higher rate of assaults on staff and inmates.”  

Camp, Scott D and Dawn M. Daggett, Quality of Operations at Private and Public Prisons:  Using Trends in Inmate Misconduct to Compare Prisons.”  Federal Bureau of Prisons, Office of Evaluation and Research.  June 27, 2005.  Found higher levels of inmate misconduct in public versus privately operated federal prisons. 

Camp, Scott D. and Gerald Gaes, Growth and Quality of US Private Prisons:  Evidence from a National Survey.”  Federal Bureau of Prisons, Office of Evaluation and Research.  September 21, 2001.  Found that, privately operated prisons had much higher turnover rates for correctional officers, had much higher escape rates from secure institutions, and much higher random drug hit rates than the Bureau of Prisons. 

 The Institute for Money in State Politics, “Policy Lockdown:  Prison Interests Court Political Players.  April 2006.  Private prison interests, primarily lobbyists, gave Arizona candidates $77,267 in the 2002-2004 election cycle.  In return, the state legislature passed favorable legislation, including 2003 proposal that increased the number of private-prison beds in the state and a 2005 measure that called for a constitutional amendment to cap the population in state-run prisons and transfer any prisoners above that cap to privately run facilities. 

 Hodai, Beau Legacy of Corruption: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio's unsettling history of extremely close ties to private prison operator Geo Group and the possible federal investigation into Florida's private prison giveaway of more than $120 million., July 2010 through January 2011.  Detailed expose of how GEO Group’s substantial donations to the Florida Republican Party paid off in a lucrative contract with the Florida Department of Corrections to develop the Blackwater Correctional Facility. 


Arizona Department of Corrections Security Assessment of the Kingman Prison

Arizona Department of Corrections, ASP- Kingman Security Assessment, August 4-6, 2010.  Reviews security lapses that led to the escape of three prisoners.  Reports that the alarm system “is not functioning properly, is not maintained properly, it is not monitored correctly, and it is not tested properly.”  Also refers to the inexperience and lack of training of staff:  “Finding staff with 2 or more years of service is rare.

Cost Savings or Cost Shifting: The Fiscal Impact of Prison Privatization in Arizona

Private Corrections Institute, February 2005.  Argues that research used to justify the expansion of prison privatization in Arizona is methodologically flawed, outdated and, in one case, discredited by the researcher’s financial ties to the private prison industry.

AFSC Publication: White Paper on Prison Privatization

White Paper on Prison Privatization, describes the various forms of prison privatization in Arizona, locations of facilities and operators; provides history, legal basis, other background; outlines AFSC’s concerns with privatization.

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