Security records mixed for private prison firms. Ohio will announce next month which firm will run the state’s prisons.

Special Investigation
From: Dayton Daily News
Security records mixed for private prison firms
Ohio will announce next month which firm will run the state’s prisons.
Kasich looking to privatization to cut costs, raise cash
By Tom Beyerlein and Laura A. Bischoff, Staff Writers
Saturday, August 6, 2011

An escape from a privatized prison in Kingman, Ariz., last year left two people dead and raised questions among some whether the same nightmare scenario could happen in Ohio.

The company that operates the Arizona State Prison Complex at Kingman is Utah-based Management and Training Corp., one of three for-profit corrections companies seeking to buy and operate five Ohio facilities under Gov. John Kasich’s prison privatization plan.

Escapes can and do happen at publicly operated prisons too. But a stunning lack of administrative oversight before the July 30, 2010, escape at Kingman has opponents of the Ohio plan calling it a textbook example of what can go wrong when private companies operate public corrections institutions.

Alarms blared at the Arizona State Prison Complex after three convicts escaped, but an investigation found that guards ignored them: The alarm system had been malfunctioning for two and a half years, sometimes going off 200 to 300 times per shift.

Before they were captured, authorities say, two of the fugitives and an accomplice kidnapped a retired couple vacationing in New Mexico, killed them at a remote ranch, then doused their camper with liquor and set it ablaze, burning their bodies beyond recognition.

The Oklahoma couple’s survivors are suing the state and the company for $40 million.

Ohio is joining Texas, Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma and Mississippi as one of the top states using the $3 billion private prison industry to house convicts. Terms of the bids are secret, but Ohio is to announce Sept. 1 whether MTC, Corrections Corp. of America, the GEO Group or a combination of two or all three will buy and run the five prisons under contract with the state.

When the deal is completed, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will confine at least 5,900 of its nearly 51,000 prisoners in privately run cells. People on both sides of the debate say privatization is unlikely to stop at five prisons. “If it’s making sense and working, let’s keep going,” said Matt Mayer, executive director of the conservative Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions.

Arguments for privatization

State officials hope the sale of the five prisons will generate $200 million — $75 million of which will go to shore up the $3.1 billion two-year Corrections budget — and they say the privatization of operations will save at least 5 percent, or $6.6 million per year.

The companies, according to Kasich administration officials, generally have good track records for safety, and MTC has safely operated two Ohio-owned prisons for 10 years for less money than comparable state-run prisons.

However, Ohio’s early experience with private prisons was troubled. In 1998, six inmates — five of them killers — escaped in broad daylight from a CCA prison in Youngstown that housed inmates from Washington, D.C. Like the Kingman inmates, they had cut through perimeter fences. At the time, state legislators complained that CCA officials wouldn’t answer their questions about the escape.

In a separate instance, the state didn’t renew the contract of CiviGenics Corp. as operator of an early private prison for Ohio inmates in 2001, saying the company failed to meet expectations.

Prisons spokesman Carlo LoParo said Ohio’s oversight policies, including state approval rights over the companies’ wardens, will prevent another Kingman from happening here.

“Anything can happen in a correctional facility if you don’t have the proper procedures in place,” LoParo said. “There has to be constant vigilance from the Department of Corrections to make sure safeguards are in place. That (Kingman) situation will never happen in Ohio because of our policies and procedures.”

Safety records

Like MTC, which is privately held, the publicly traded CCA and GEO also have made national headlines in recent months because of safety and security problems in some of the prisons they operate. For example:

• In November, the Associated Press published a video showing at least three guards watching as an inmate of a CCA prison in Boise, Idaho, beat another prisoner so badly he sustained brain damage. The video triggered an FBI investigation.

• The Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing the GEO Group, formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., alleging it allowed widespread brutality and sexual abuse against juveniles by staff and other inmates at a private youth prison in Mississippi. And in 2009, an appeals court upheld a $42.5 million civil verdict against GEO in the death of a Texas inmate who was days away from release on a minor drug conviction when he was beaten to death with padlocks that inmates had purchased from the prison and stuffed into socks. The case led to a murder indictment against GEO by a Texas grand jury.

• In June, Florida Corrections inspectors conducted a surprise drug sweep at a GEO prison in Palm Beach County and found no guard at the front gate. No one answered a door bell, and no one responded when inspectors shined a flashlight into a security camera to attract attention. State officials are auditing the prison.

LoParo said expanded privatization is necessary to make up for cuts that were needed to balance the state budget and the end of federal stimulus funding that had been used to pay state salaries. Without it, he said, Ohio would have had to close prisons.

“Privatization is a way to save Ohio jobs, operate safe and secure facilities and prevent the state from further overcrowding our inmates,” he said.

Two privately run prisons have operated in Ohio for more than a decade. Kasich’s plan will not only expand that number to five, but also sell the publicly financed prison buildings to private companies. The state also plans to sell a closed juvenile detention center in Scioto County, perhaps to house federal prisoners or immigration detainees.

Administration officials say privatization is a good deal for taxpayers. Critics say it’s a bonanza for an industry with close ties to Republican governors.

“In Arizona, Florida and Ohio, industry lobbyists have very close connections with the governors,” said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the anti-privatization Private Corrections Working Group of Tallahassee, Fla. “What you’re seeing is basically a political payback for them. Governors like Kasich, they should be required to wear like a NASCAR jacket. You know, ‘This governor is brought to you by….’

“This is sort of a new phenomenon: Let’s sell the state assets. It’s basically a feeding frenzy. (The corporations) got a bunch of people elected and now they’ve got to make the best of it.”

Debate over costs

Research results vary on whether private prisons are as safe as state-operated prisons or truly save money in the long run. But critics say the profit motive causes corporations to scrimp on safety and security spending to boost their bottom lines. They say when problems do occur, corporations aren’t as accountable to the public as government. And they worry that the injection of corporate cash into the system will lead to more scandals such as the “kids for cash” conspiracy in Luzerne County, Pa., in which two juvenile judges pleaded guilty in 2009 to taking $2.6 million in kickbacks for sentencing juveniles with minor offenses to detention centers operated by Mid Atlantic Youth Services Corp.

“I simply can’t believe private corporations running a prison for a profit won’t cut corners,” said U.S. District Judge Walter H. Rice of Dayton. “A private owner is far less likely to respond (to public concerns) than a political entity.”

Additionally, at a time when many governments are seeking ways to reduce burgeoning prison populations to save taxpayer money, critics accuse the major corrections companies of supporting political candidates who favor locking up more criminal and immigration offenders.

Activists have called on investors to divest themselves of corporate corrections stock because of corporate efforts to influence incarceration policies.

MTC and GEO Group officials declined to be interviewed for this story, but CCA spokesman Steve Owen said such concerns are “unfounded. We’re not in the business of public policy. We don’t grow our business by impacting crime and sentencing laws. We grow our business by providing safe, secure facilities.”

CCA, the largest corrections company with record revenues of $1.7 billion in 2010, was also the first modern industry player. Cofounded in 1983 by then-Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Tom Beasley, the company now confines more than 75,000 male, female and juvenile inmates in 66 prisons serving 19 states, the District of Columbia, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshal’s Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Owen said CCA helps governments save money by using economies of scale in the purchasing of goods and services, and in negotiating with providers for employee benefits. He said the company offers competitive pay, based on the standards of the prisons’ host communities. That translates to lower pay for guards than that offered to unionized state employees.

“We’ve been able to deliver on the value proposition,” Owen said. “Marry that with the oversight and accountability of government, (and you get) the best of both worlds.

“At the end of the day, from a business standpoint, if we’re not operating safe and secure facilities, there’s no reason for government to partner with us.”

Political connections

Privatization foes say there are other reasons that politicians engage corrections companies: Campaign contributions, lobbying and other personal connections.

Soon after Ohio dipped its toe into the private prison waters, money started flowing into campaign coffers, campaign finance records show. Since 2001, when it began running Ohio’s two private prisons, MTC has contributed a total of $103,000 to legislative and state candidate and political parties. In just the last two years, MTC donated $42,000.

In December, CCA and GEO — the other two dominant players in the industry — each contributed $10,000, the maximum allowed by law, to Kasich’s transition fund that pays for inaugural parties and other expenses.

Each of the three vendors hired well-connected Columbus lobbyists to advance their interests. In CCA’s corner is Donald Thibaut, who served as Kasich’s chief of staff in Congress for nearly 20 years. GEO contracted with Doug Preisse and Bob Klaffky, who both served as political advisors to the Kasich campaign. MTC hired Dan Jones, who went on a Florida fishing trip with then House Speaker Jon Husted in the midst of the 2006 budget negotiations.

After being elected governor last year, Kasich hired former CCA employee Gary Mohr as his corrections director and announced plans to privatize the five prisons. Mohr handed oversight of the deal to his chief of staff to avoid a conflict of interest.

MTC also hired former Ohio Corrections Director Terry Collins as a paid consultant. CCA announced in June it hired newly retired Federal Bureau of Prisons director Harley G. Lappin as its chief corrections officer and executive vice president.

According to OpenSecrets.org, which tracks campaign giving and lobbying influence, CCA and GEO have contributed a combined $20.9 million to federal candidates in the last decade. The two companies also spent a combined $19.6 million to lobby federal officials since 2000. Since 2002, GEO and CCA contributed $1 million to the Democratic Governors Association and $1.8 million to the Republican Governors Association, according to OpenSecrets.

State Rep. Mike Foley, D-Cleveland, said Ohio’s privatizations are “giveaways to corporate America,” and said they raise questions about “pay to play and basically buying influence to obtain state resources.”

Ohio Corrections officials deny political motivations, saying the privatization plan is one means of solving the state’s budget crisis. LoParo said the selection process is being done by an adminstration team in “a very transparent, very professional manner, far removed from the political process.”

Next steps

MTC currently runs the minimum-security North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton and the medium-security Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut in the northeastern tip of Ohio near Pennsylvania.

LoParo said the MTC-run prisons have had fewer incidents of inmate-on-staff and inmate-on-inmate violence than comparable state-run prisons. And Corrections budget chief Kevin Stockdale said MTC’s prisons have come in six to 16 percent cheaper than comparable state-run prisons.

The five private prisons will house only minimum- and medium-security inmates, LoParo said. Higher-security inmates will be held only in state-run prisons and “that will not change.” He acknowledged that murderers and other violent criminals can achieve medium-security status with good behavior.

Critics worry that in practice the state would be slow to punish troubled vendors or hold the line on per-diem charges, especially when the vendors own the prison buildings. Some studies have shown that initial savings evaporate because vendors renegotiate for higher fees.

“Once the assets are sold … the camel’s nose is under the tent,” Kopczynski said. “The vendors have (state officials) over a barrel.”

But Kopczynski said Ohio also risks sacrificing basic human rights in the name of financial savings.

“It goes to the heart of the American system of jurisprudence,” he said. “The next question is, if you can save money privatizing the prisons, can you save money privatizing the cops? The courts? What is the basic function of government?”

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2264 or tbeyerlein@DaytonDailyNews.com.
http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/crime/security-records-mixed-for-private-prison-firms-1224338.html?viewAsSinglePage=true

Exile to the Desert: 3 more years of CCA’s abuse.

Shame on the state of Hawaii for continuing this contract after all the abuses (including torture and the sexual assault of a prisoner by a guard) that have occurred in Saguaro Correctional Center in the prison town of Eloy under CCA’s watch. The people of the Islands should oppose this vociferously…your prisoners are just in for more abuse at the hands of Arizonans – especially your Indigenous. In fact, following this news article is a link to a decent piece by a friend of mine, Frank Smith from Private Corrections Institute, who’s an expert on the private prison industry. He did some extensive research into the experience of Native Americans in private prisons – it’s worth reading.

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State Signs New Three-Year Arizona Prison Deal

Hawaii Reporter

June 23, 2011

BY JIM DOOLEY – The state has signed a new, three-year contract with Corrections Corporation of America to house up to 1,900 prison inmates at private prisons in Arizona.

The price carries a one per cent increase over the curent contract with CCA, which expires at the end of the month. The Department of Public Safety will pay CCA $63.85 per inmate per day. The old rate was $63.22.

CCA is believed to have submitted the sole bid for the contract.

The new deal, which carries two possible one-year contract extensions, was signed as Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration is making plans to end the longstanding policy of imprisoning Hawaii inmates in out-of-state facilities.

Public Safety officials are drawing up a plan for the return of out-of-state prisoners, but its completion is sometime in the future and will depend on construction of new correctional facilities here and development of new community-based programs for men and women now locked behind bars.

The Hawaii State Auditor said in a report issued late last year the total cost of the private prison program more than tripled since 2001, from just under $20 million to more than $60 million.

The per-day charges under the new contract would total some $44.3 million, although there are millions the state must pay in associated costs which the contract with CCA doesn’t cover.

The actual number of Hawaii inmates now held at CCA’s Saguaro Correctional Facility in Eloy, Arizona is now believed to have dropped under 1,800 as the state has stepped up efforts to bring certain categories of prisoners home.

Some 60 Hawaii inmates are also being held at CCA’s Red Rock Correctional Facility, next door to the Saguaro complex.

————————–Native Americans in Private Prisons——————

Native Americans in Private Prisons.

Arizona Prison Watch
Friday, December 3, 2010

The following is the intro to a piece written by my friend Frank Smith, an expert on private prisons with the Private Corrections Working Group (where I dig up all those rap sheets on prison profiteers). Here’s the testimony he gave to the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons several years back – which makes some good points still relevant to the violence and abuse of prisoners at CCA’s Idaho Correctional Center, among other places.

Follow the link for the full text of the article, which I found posted to a great website on Lenape (Delaware Indian) culture and issues. The article was originally published as a chapter in the book “Capitalist Punishment: Prison Privatization and Human Rights” (Elizabeth Alexander, et al), a worthwhile text for any library on crime and punishment.

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Incarceration of Native Americans and Private Prisons
By Frank Smith

Introduction

There are currently slightly over two million inmates in local, state and federal jails and prisons. Of these, some 1.6 percent are Native Americans and Hawaiian Natives; in Federal institutions, Native Americans constitute 2 percent of the population, since the U.S. government is involved in criminal justice enforcement on reservations. Because approximately 6 percent of all U.S. inmates are held in private prisons, the total number of Native Americans in these for-profit prisons is comparatively rather small. For that reason, this article presents a picture of the conditions in which Native Americans are held given that limited experience.

Historical Perspective


In order to achieve an informed understanding of the current situation with regard to Native Americans in prison, it is necessary to place it within a larger historical and sociological context. While most residents of the US have the notion their country was founded on the principles of justice and freedom, closer examination reveals that perception is not accurate, particularly in the case of Native Americans.1

The more progressive of our founding fathers whom we remember so fondly as protectors of these ideals include Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson. Paine consistently referred to Indians as “savages”, and used them as a negative comparative stereotype. Jefferson considered his contemporary Indians to be hindrances to colonial progress. The US only granted Natives citizenship in 1924, five years after women and 59 years after Black males were allowed to vote.

African Americans have undoubtedly been pervasively discriminated against in US history–their dehumanization was even embodied in the Constitution. Schoolchildren learn of the more egregious Supreme Court-approved violations of the rights of Blacks such as the Dred Scott decision or Plessy v. Feurgeson,2 and that the Civil War was fought in part over slavery.

They may have read the Emancipation Proclamation and even the Thirteenth to Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. The sordid history in America of slave owning, in the north and south, of lynching, of Jim Crow, is discussed in most schools. The role of such historic figures as Frederick Douglas or Sojourner Truth is widely recognized. Martin Luther King Jr., is certainly better known than many mediocre presidents. Selma, Alabama, and Little Rock, Arkansas are familiar mileposts, as is Brown v. Board of Education. Students may even understand the meaning of racial profiling, of the immensedisparity between sentencing for crack cocaine, more prevalent in inner-city neighborhoods, and powdered cocaine, more favored by wealthier uburbanites.

They may possibly be aware that a Black adolescent has perhaps a 50 times greater chance of being placed in an adult penal institution than a white youth who has been charged with exactly the same crime,3 and that perhaps one of three young Black men has been subjected to some criminal sanction, such as probation, parole, jail or prison.

Yet how many Americans, young or old, fully understand that this same disenfranchisement; this same disproportionate treatment by the criminal justice system, has affected Native Americans since the Articles of Confederation were signed? How many realize that broken treaties have been the order of the day for over two hundred years? Do they know that the early settlement of this nation involved pushing indigenous peoples into ever smaller, less habitable reservations?

How many school children are taught the cruel facts behind the genocidal removal of the inhabitants of the post-Revolutionary Southeast? There is hardly a Native American tribe that does not have a history of broken treaties and persecution. What this long, troubled relationship between European Americans and Natives constitutes is deliberate disregard for and discrimination against Native culture. Theft of lands, exiles, dispossessions, and a prevailing condemnatory and paternalistic attitude provide the background for the problems of Native Americans in prisons, both public and private, today. It particularly pervades the conditions of confinement of Indians in private prisons…

Prisoners Post: to the CEO of CCA, Damon Hininger.

Hope some of Hawai’is legislators are paying attention to this – look at what you really get for your dollar in Arizona.

This is a courageous, frank letter from a prisoner of the Corrections Corporation of America and the City of Eloy out at the Saguaro Correctional Facility (where 18 prisoners are suing for torture, and one is suing a guard for sexual assault).

I sure hope Thad was right when he guessed that the CEO may actually answer his letter, though, if he’s right about all this, then they’ll be sure to send someone to his cell to harass and write him up, at the very least.

Keep us posted on how you’re faring in there, Thad. We still want to see you make it out of there soon. He makes a hell of a lot of money off of prisoners like you behaving yourselves, so I’d think he’ could afford the grace to listen...

– Peg

“Prisoners Have Families, Too”.
Maricopa County Jail: Tent City.

Phoenix, AZ. (April 6, 2011)

PS: Here’s the follow-up post to this letter. Thad got harassed alright – he was hit for another year by the parole board after they had already given him an out date, thanks to a personal call from the good warden at Saguaro after this post went up. As far as I’m concerned, they’re corrupt through and through in Eloy, Arizona: the City of God.


————————————————

To The CEO of CCA:
Damon Hininger

Corrections Corporation of America

10 Burton Hills Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37215

Phone: (615) 263-3000; (800) 624-2931
Fax: (615) 263-3140

Celling Arizona: AFSC-Tucson calls for moratorium on further prison-building


At least, that was a big thing I got out of the press conference: NO NEW PRISONS! We can’t even take care of the prisoners we have, after all.

Caroline Isaacs and Matt Lowen (mlowen@afsc.org) at the American Friends Service Committee office in Tucson are excellent resources on the politics of private prisons in Arizona, and have done extensive research on both the issue of prison privatization, and the abuses of solitary confinement (see Buried Alive: Solitary Confinement in Arizona’s Prisons and Jails).

I especially encourage prisoners, family members, and lawyers and activists pursuing civil rights suits on the conditions of confinement in Special Management Units (SMU) and prolonged detention/isolation to contact them about their research into the effects of such treatment. The National ACLU has recently announced a campaign to end the abuse of solitary confinement, particularly as a management tool for seriously mentally ill prisoners (which is too often done instead of providing medical/psychiatric treatment).

You can reach them at:

AFSC-Tucson
103 N Park Avenue, Suite 111
Tucson
, AZ 85719

520.623.9141

afscaz@afsc.org

—————————————–

Private-Prison Watchdog Criticizes State
Group: Arizona Does Not Need Additional Private Prison Beds

KPHO.com

POSTED: 5:07 pm MST February 15, 2011
UPDATED: 6:56 pm MST February 15, 2011

PHOENIX — A private-prison watchdog group says questions about safety and cost should prompt state leaders to cancel a plan to privatize 5,000 prison beds.

Representatives of the American Friends Service Committee met with state leaders Tuesday to hand over research they’ve conducted about private prisons in Arizona.

The group’s findings include revelations that Arizona pays private prison companies $55 per night for medium security inmates, while it only costs $48 for the same inmates in state-run facilities.

“And the evidence overwhelmingly shows that for-profit prisons are more expensive, less safe and are not accountable to the tax payers,” said Caroline Isaacs, who is the AFSC Arizona program director.

Last summer, the Arizona Department of Corrections canceled a plan to privatize 5,000 prison beds, after three inmates escaped from a for-profit prison in Kingman. The prison break resulted in a multistate manhunt. Authorities say two of the escapees murdered a man and woman in New Mexico while on the run.

At the end of January, the state reopened the contract process for the 5,000 prison beds after the director of the Department of Corrections issued new rules for oversight of private prisons.

Isaacs said the state needs new laws that tighten private prison reporting requirements to ensure the facilities are safe and economical. She also called on Gov. Jan Brewer and state leaders to scrap the plan to expand the private prisons already operating in Arizona.

———————–

see The Tucson Citizen’s blog, Cell-Out Arizona for more on Arizona’s private prison industry.

Eloy Council blesses CCA prison proposal

Here’s the local coverage of last week’s Eloy City Council meeting – there really is such a thing as a free press in Arizona. The people of Eloy should be proud of that, despite the performance of their public officials. Kudos to Lindsey Gemme, editor of the Eloy Enterprise at Tri-Valley Central for giving the private prison issue the fair hearing this month that the Eloy City Council wouldn’t.

I had no expectation of such a comprehensive report on the meeting – I drove Frank to it; this is a good account of how it went down. The mayor, as noted, is on Corrections Corporation of America’s payroll (is it any wonder?), and the rest of them showed more concern for roads and traffic lights than for the lawsuits and human rights claims filed against the CCA prisons in their town.


I was actually astonished that there was no council discussion of the abuse – no sign of disapproval, even. People have been brutalized and raped in the City of Eloy’s care – Hawai’i is even talking about pulling their prisoners out. If CCA and Eloy can’t be responsible for those already committed to their custody – at quite a cost to the public, in more ways than one – why should Arizona pay them to warehouse and dehumanize our people, too? What kind of critical public service is that really providing – torturing drunks, drug addicts and burglars already bound in chains? It not only diminishes our collective humanity, it puts us all at risk to let prisoners be abused in the end.
Gemme – you may or may not agree with my own editorial above, but I think identifying the allegations of CCA’s prisoner abuse in the meeting took integrity and courage – I think most editors in a similar situation might have considered that ice to be too thin. Good luck with the fallout. There are a lot of Hawai’ian and Californian families who will be watching your back now, at least – they need news they can trust more than anyone these days. We’ll be watching, too.

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The private life of prisons

Researchers address Council on dangers, costs of private prisons

By LINDSEY GEMME
Editor – Eloy Enterprise Tri-Valley Central.com
Published: Thursday, February 24, 2011
What seemed to be a housekeeping issue before Council during its regular meeting last Monday, Feb. 14, opened up a can of worms when three agreements with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) came on deck.
Mayor Byron Jackson abstained from the discussion and approval of the CCA items, as his being a contract employee for CCA for landscaping presented a conflict of interest. Vice-Mayor Frank Acuna oversaw the discussion in his place.

The first of the three items were merely to formalize in writing a verbal agreement with an existing contract between CCA and the Dept. of Public Safety in Hawaii. Though the city had been involved, it had never officially designated in writing or policy the lawful roles of each member in the agreement.

“It creates a separate agreement defining the city’s and CCA’s previous agreement to house the State of Hawaii and Dept. of Public Safety inmates in Eloy,” City Manager Ruth Osuna explained.

The second was a request of Council’s support in a proposal CCA was sending out for a contract with the Arizona Department of Corrections for 5,000 prison beds. Pending the results of that bid, CCA could be building a new facility to accommodate those state inmates, or expanding on an existing one. Eloy is one of several locations CCA would considering siting a new facility, if needed.

The proposal will be submitted today, Feb. 24. The 5,000 beds could be split up into several facilities, and it is uncertain exactly what CCA will opt to do.

“Both out of the respect for the RFP process and for competitive reasons, it’s too early in the process and it’s premature for CCA to discuss what that proposal would entail,” CCA Public Affairs Director Steve Owen later explained.

Before approval of the items last week, two members of the audience addressed Council during the Call to the Public about the agreements with the for-profit correctional company.

Local resident Frank Smith explained that he has been researching private prisons for 15 years. Besides helping to build criminal cases in the past, he’s also become quite knowledgeable about the drain private prisons put on a municipality. For example, he said, prisoners use 150 gallons of water a day, each. Multiply that times 5,000 prisoners, that’s 273 million gallons of water a year in Eloy.

“You’re talking about a tremendous amount of water,” Smith pointed out. “You’ve got problems with water in Arizona, you’ve got the Salt River Project. It’s a consideration you should investigate before you approve this agreement.”

CCA tends to depend on the towns where their prisons are located to supply infrastructure like sewer lines and paving, he went on to say. “Not always, but most of the time. There is a liability here, you can get into trouble.”

Another liability, he added, were escapes from these facilities, such as the one in Kingman last year. According to Smith, the state is being sued $40 million for the Kingman escape.

“An escape that was inevitable given the level of training and turnover of the guards that were there,” he said. “It took them hours to notify the Mojave County Sheriff. After three hours, they didn’t even know who was gone…and it took another hour and an half or so before the EDC was notified who they were.

“You’ve got serious problems here. I think the city should investigate its exposure to liability.”

He cited the pre-Christmas riot in December last year where seven inmates were sent to the hospital as another instance of liability for the city to consider. Especially, he said, in light of the lawsuit being waged against CCA by 18 Hawaiian prisoners who reported serious abuse at the hands of CCA staff at the Saguaro prison.

Costs are another thing he warned the city to be wary about. “You don’t see the numbers that CCA should be giving you. And you don’t get the jobs here. There’s a very high turnover.”

For example in Texas, he said, the state discovered that seven of their private prisons had 90 percent turnover a year. “That’s not correctional officers, you’re talking about fast food workers with badges. That’s tremendous turnover.”

Vice-Mayor Acuna had to cut Smith off at the three-minute mark, and Caroline Isaacs came to the podium. Isaacs is director of the American Friends Service Committee Office in Tucson, which is a national organization associated with the Quaker religion and concentrates its efforts on criminal justice reform. She has been working with AFSCO for 15 years.

She began by announcing to Council about the public hearing on for-profit incarceration that they helped host in Tuscon on Oct. 27, 2010, during which several area community leaders presented their exhaustive research on private prisons.

According to the AFSC’s Web site, many Tucson area government officials were in attendance at last October’s public hearing regarding prison privatization. Correctional representatives from the Arizona Dept. of Corrections, CCA, and the Management and Training Corporation, although invited, were not in attendance,.

Those in attendance were: Phil Lopez (Ariz. State Representative, District 27), Assistance Tucson City Manager Richard Miranda, Richard Elias (Pima County Supervisor, District 5), Steve Kozachik (Tucson City Council, Ward 6), Nancy Young-Wright (Ariz. State Representative, District 26), and former associate editor for the Tucson Citizen, Mark Kimble, moderated by Mari Herraras from Tucson Weekly.

Presenters were Stephen Nathan with the Prison Privatization report International, Susan Maurer with the New Jersey Dept. of Corrections, Victoria Lopez with ACLU Arizona, Joe Glen with the Juvenile Corrections Association, and Jim Sanders with the Real Estate Appraiser in Tucson.

Some of the findings revealed at the meeting were that overall, it costs more to utilize private prisons than state-run institutions, are understaffed and Isaacs gave several examples from over the last year illustrating the safety concerns there are for prisoners.

This past summer, a Hawaiian inmate at Saguaro was strangled by his cellmate while the prison was in lock down in June 2010. That same month, another inmate was stabbed to death at Saguaro by two other inmates who could face the death penalty, and an employee suffered a broken nose and cheekbones and eye socket damage during a 30-inmate brawl over an Xbox game in July.

That’s not to mention the recent lawsuit pending against CCA by 18 of its inmates in December for abuse that went unchecked by the state’s on-site contract monitor.

Isaacs also explained to Council the uncertainty of the prison company’s cost nunbers, according to an audit done by a Hawaiian company for Saguaro.

“CCA chooses to report artificial cost figures derived from a calculation based on a flawed methodology,” she read directly from the audit. “Without clarified guidance by policy makers, the department has no incentive to perform better, and will continue to evade accountability by providing unreliable and inaccurate reporting of operating costs…”

At the end of her three minutes, Isaacs left information for Council to review at their leisure.

Council then turned to the task at hand, which were the three agreements with CCA.

The third agreement was to formalize a verbal contract between the city and CCA about the company’s role in building certain infrastructure to service its three newest prisons.

Councilman Joel Belloc questioned whether the roads around the newest prison, LaPalma, were completed and who was responsible for the upkeep of those roads. CCA representative John Gluch was present, and told Council that the roads were complete and were now in the hands of the city.

“[This agreement] is just to put into writing the timing of the improvements,” Rick Miller said about the final agreement. “It is good to know that they’re going to be anticipating those costs, which, in time, will need to be paid. We’ll need traffic signals and that infrastructure will go in and they will be a participant in their share of that.”

All three agreements were unanimously approved.

“We certainly are very appreciative of the level of support that the city of Eloy has shown us and by extension, the broader Pinal County area, as well as the recognition they’ve given the services that we provide,” Owen later commented, “and the economic impact we have with our facilities. We look forward to our long term relationship withe community continuing.”