Looks like the priorities of Arizonans shifted in recent years from rehabilitating offenders to warehousing them again. Maybe if we didn't have so many petty offenders incarcerated in the state - and such high recidivism rates - there would have been more room for murderers so they wouldn't be putting the overflow in medium security private prisons dedicated to DUI and drug offenders.
It's now damn near impossible for prisoners who really need it to be placed in a meaningful substance abuse or mental health treatment unit - programs which, if they were accessible enough on the outside, may have prevented many from needing them on the inside. Now lifers and white supremacists occupy this place, and young addicts and burglars with just a few years to do are placed in massive state prisons with gangs and killers running them. What do we think we're teaching them there? Who will they be when they leave - if they survive?
College classes for AZ state prisoners, by the way, are reserved for those who can afford to pay for it themselves - funding for that was axed a long time ago, fueling the prison boom.
Prison outside Kingman at capacity of 472
By Marvin Robertson
KINGMAN – The Arizona State Prison facility southwest of Kingman has an inmate population unique in the state, Deputy Warden Clint Davis said.
“This is the first place I have worked where all the inmates were in for the same offense.” Davis said “I have always recommended non-violent first offenders be kept away from repeat offenders.”
The population at the facility near the Griffith power plant interchange in Interstate 40 is at current capacity of 472. Construction continues to add space for nearly another 1,000 inmates by April. Food service and administrative facilities are in temporary buildings. Davis said the prison population is older than he had expected for the driving under the influence sentences. Most are there for drinking and driving, although DUI could include drugs if the individual was picked up driving while “high,” Davis said.
The prison was quiet Monday, a holiday when some staff members who handle the educational programs were taking a break.
Many inmates were enjoying the warm Arizona October sun in the exercise yard. Some were still in their bunks sleeping past mid-morning. Others had their usual duties helping in the kitchen, cleaning floors and raking the exercise yard.
“Rocks seem to float to the surface here,” Davis said. “We continually rake the surface and remove them so they do not become weapons.”
Inmates can stay in the exercise yard most of the day if their assignments are completed. They walk, use the fitness stations and sit on benches in the warm sunshine. Volleyball and horseshoes (plastic not iron) will be added to the basketball courts now available. “The average length of stay is four to six months,” Davis said. “They take a basic six-week program followed by 16 hours of DUI education and treatment,” Davis said. “They then enter aftercare and have basic education and will have classes up to college available.”
Management Training Corp., a Utah company, operates the prison as a private facility for the Arizona Department of Corrections. As deputy warden, Davis is in charge of the educational programs.
“The MTC mission is ‘Success for Life,’” he said. The motto is “Preparing offenders for re-entry to society.”
“I know of no other private of public prison operation than MTC with that mission,” he said.
Half the inmates come without a high school education. The Department of Corrections requires that those who cannot pass a basic test of skills at the eighth-grade level to take basic education courses.
Davis said inmates who get some college classes or vocational training during first incarceration seldom return. With a college class, the return rate is 3 percent. With a vocation skill or trade, the return rate is 12 percent.
Without either, 85 percent of the inmates will return within five years. On average, those will spend 10 of the next 20 years behind bars at a total cost to the state of $250,000 for prison. By age 40, many stay out of prison. MTC now employees 120 people at the Kingman site. Another 150 employees will be added by April when the full 1,400 inmates are housed. Mohave Community College is recruiting employees for MTC and conducts training academies to train new employees.
Most of the employees live in Mohave County.