What will privatizing super maximum prisons in Arizona mean for it's inmates, can they expect fair treatment?
Seattle TimesOne of the newest residents on Arizona's death row, serial killer Dale Hausner, poked his head up from his television to look at several visitors strolling by, each of whom wore face masks and vests to protect against the sharp homemade objects that often are propelled from the cells of the condemned.
It is a dangerous place to patrol, and Arizona spends $4.7 million each year to house inmates such as Hausner in a super-maximum-security prison. But in a first in the criminal-justice world, the state's death-row inmates could become the responsibility of a private company.
State officials soon will seek bids from private companies for nine of the state's 10 prison complexes that house roughly 40,000 inmates, including the 127 on death row. It is the first attempt by a state to put its entire prison system under private control.
The privatization effort, in its breadth and aggressive financial goals, demonstrates what states — broke, desperate and often overburdened with prisoners and their associated costs — are willing to do to balance the books. Arizona officials hope the effort will put a $100 million dent in the state's roughly $2 billion budget shortfall.
The privatization move has raised questions about the ability of the private sector to handle the state's most hardened criminals. While executions would be performed by the state, officials said, the Department of Corrections would relinquish all other day-to-day operations to the private operator and pay a per-diem fee for each prisoner.