Just got feedback below from Frank Smith, Private Corrections Working Group, on the following article in the Coolidge Examiner today. He's been investigating the private prison industry for something like 20 years. His remarks may or may not be posted to the site by Tri-Valley Central, but are important to share:
D-Day has been extended
October 12, 2011
The “D” stands for decision as in whether a prison is built in Coolidge. Regardless of what side Coolidge citizens are on they want an answer. The answer to whether Coolidge gets a private prison apparently will come later rather than sooner. A decision that could have come as early as Sept. 16 has now been extended to Nov. 22, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections.
The DOC has apparently asked Management and Training Corporation (MTC) and the other companies that bid on a private prison “to extend its bid through November 22, 2011, while they continue to evaluate the proposals.”....
There are a lot of questions, but few have been answered in the media.
MTC's escape on July 30, 2010, probably cost the state, local and federal government unreimbursed millions. The corporation ran a prodigiously insecure facility. AZ DOC Director Chuck Ryan had been unwilling to assure that the state properly monitored its operations.
Ryan owes a considerable debt to his mentor, Terry Stewart, who is a consultant for MTC. MTC also verbally accepted blame for the escape, absolving the state, and is likely being rewarded for falling on its sword during a gubernatorial campaign.
The DOC allowed MTC to operate for years in Kingman when the alarm systems didn't work and there was only a single fence surrounding the medium security facility. The AZ DOC sent hundreds of prisoners there who were clearly ineligible to be kept in such low security. What has changed in the interim, since the escapes of the murderers?
The state is being sued for $40 million by the families of the deceased victims of the escapees.
It's also being sued for failing to conduct a required analysis that would determine if use of the for-profit contractors saves taxpayers any money, as required by law. A number of previous studies have found that is not the case.
There are major additional questions.
Arizona's prison population has flattened out. It only grew by 65 beds last year, but it trying to contract for 5,000 unneeded beds at a cost of over two million dollars a week. The legislature is strangely silent on this issue. The contracts will require the state to pay for 90%-97% of the beds, even if they are never filled.
MTC has come to Coolidge and essentially told locals that it is willing to invest over a hundred million building a prison and it will be an engine for economic development. In fact, it wants the municipality to borrow the money to build the prison, putting the city's credit rating at major risk, and risking none of the corporation's money.
Why haven't Coolidge resident been informed about taking on over $100 million in debt?
Where is the water supposed to come from to supply this prison, and what is the capacity of sewage treatment to deal with the waste? A 3,000-bed prison would use about 180 million gallons of water annually, and 80% of that would go back into sewage treatment. Where is the analysis that demonstrates the city has the water rights to supply that prospective need?
GEO Group operates two prisons in Pinal County and CCA runs and owns six more. They appear to be recruiting most of their staff from bottom-of-the-barrel, high turnover, Pima and Maricopa county labor pools. Neither chose to offer to build another facility in Pinal because the local labor pool willing to work for low wages in dangerous conditions is obviously exhausted. MTC pays starting guards on $11 hourly in Kingman but it seems unlikely that they would attract any employees for less than $17 hourly, and they probably shouldn't be hiring those. CCA has only kept its prisons staffed by using lower than contracted staff ratios and failing to do adequate background screening.
Who owns the water rights for the Coolidge land on which the prison would be built, and how much water go with the land? These are the most basic questions to be answered, but I haven't seen any of them discussed in the Examiner.
Lastly, CCA is is a world of hurt. It pretends that it can move its California prisoners anywhere to its facilities in other states. In fact it has many empty prisons, some long closed such as Watonga, OK, Walsenburg, CO and Appleton, MN. But its contracts with California expire in January and there is some question if they will be renewed.
It has also repeatedly shown, at Red Rock and Las Palmas, that its staff is incapable of dealing with the level of offender which it has been importing. Just yesterday, its Sayre, OK facility had a major riot involving those same California gang bangers and dozens of prisoners, some in critical condition, had to be transported to hospitals, some over 100 miles away.
The Republic has asked some of these questions. When will the Examiner do its duty to subscribers and residents?
Private Corrections Working Group
---and, from the Arizona Republic, for those who missed it,
the series Frank referred to---
Report on the private-prison systemRead the documents
Arizona private-prison delay urged
Coolidge voices desire to land new prison
2010 escape at Kingman an issue for MTC's bid
La. firm says prison escapes led to changes
Private-prison bidder Geo's record an issue
Proposal to build private prison in Goodyear draws fire
Firm presents Arizona prison proposal
Arizona prison oversight lacking for private facilities
Kingman prison empty bed payments
Documents show security lapses in prisons
Public hearings on prison plans
State to expand private prisons
Kingman private prison slow to fix flaws
Arizona DOC faces systemwide security lapses
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