Published on Wednesday, November 4, 2009 9:53 AM MST
Those are a few of the scenarios discussed by local government leaders in response to budget cuts submitted to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer by Charles L. Ryan, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections.
The budget cuts — which include laying off 107 full-time equivalent employees at
According to Kincaid, the city is operating with less state money due to the
Layoffs at the prison would result in less spending at Safford businesses. A 15-percent cut by other agencies would have other impacts. For example, a budget cut at the Arizona Department of Commerce would impact local economic development.
Budget cuts would also negatively impact the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
"If they take a 15-percent cut, the Arizona Department of Water Resources goes away," Kincaid said.
There would also be impacts to the county, including financial and overcrowding in the Graham County Jail, said Drew John, chairman of the Board of Supervisors.
"It would be a snowball effect," John said.
As the county continues to reel from layoffs from the Freeport-McMoRan copper mine near Safford, a layoff from Fort Grant would cause county residents to be even more cautious when spending money.
The ADOC budget cuts call for prison inmates with sentences of a year or less to be housed in the county jails. This would cause overcrowding in
"We would lose our (federal) Bureau of Prisons contract," John said. "It would be almost impossible to take those prisoners into our jail."
He added that Graham would be forced to send its inmates to county jails throughout
John said he does not believe the answer is to close state prisons or to privatize them. He believes the state should allow a private corrections company to build a new prison in
Wednesday, November 4, 2009 9:53 AM MST
The budget cut ideas to the prison system are not realistic, nor are they even a reality at this time. They are in response to Gov. Jan Brewer’s request of all state agencies for budget reductions that could trim 15 percent from their spending plans, ADOC spokesman Barrett Marson said.
If they were a reality, however, the savings would only amount to about $153,368,700, which is like a fast evaporating drop in the bucket of the state’s expected shortfall of $4 billion over the next two years. Besides the negligible savings, the state’s criminal code would have to be rewritten so that some people who are serving sentences at this time could be released.
“The rewriting of the criminal code and releasing thousands of prisoners is neither realistic nor in the best interest of public safety,” Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles L. Ryan wrote. “Releasing thousands of prisoners because of the budget deficit will place the public at risk and is akin to turning our backs on the law-abiding citizens of Arizona.”
If this idea were to become reality, this Valley and the state would be affected in every aspect of the economy. Locally, the 107 employees who would be laid off would have to quickly obtain new jobs or file for unemployment benefits, and their spending would decrease. The impact would be felt sharply on state and local levels.
The problem with this scenario is that once this type of idea reaches the public arena, it somehow becomes reality unless voters let their voices be heard. If you would like to voice your opinion on this matter, call, write or fax Governor Jan Brewer at 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007; phone 602-542-4331 or fax 602-542-1381.