A Quaker prison-watchdog group, whose lawsuit seeking to block any contract was dismissed in Maricopa County Superior Court last month, Friday filed an appeal and a fresh request for an injunction. That injunction would block any contract until Corrections completes required studies comparing the performance of its existing private-prison contracts to state prisons.
Judge Arthur Anderson dismissed the initial suit on the ground that the Tucson office of the American Friends Service Committee lacked standing to sue the state. The committee noted the dismissal didn't address substantive issues raised by the suit, which alleges that the state is in violation of its own laws, which require that any private-prison contracts save the state money and that the state conduct biannual studies comparing the operations of private and state prisons.
The department has never conducted these studies, which are supposed to analyze costs, the security and safety of each prison, how inmates are managed, inmate discipline, programs, staff training, administration, and other factors. The suit and the appeal charge that without these studies, the state can't say whether private prisons are more cost-effective than state facilities. The department didn't immediately reply to requests for comment.
Bids on contracts were halted last year to beef up security requirements after three inmates escaped from a private prison in Kingman. The department had expected to award contracts as early as Sept. 12, but that process has been repeatedly delayed. This week, the department asked the four bidders to extend their bids to Dec. 22.
Some astute AZ Republic readers comments:
"Maybe we can drive out the private prisons with a citizens initiative in the same way we put an end to the slimy payday lenders."
"The fact that ex-ADC Director Terry "Abu Ghraib" Stewart, the mentor of Chuck Ryan is working for MTC, and only that fact explains why they are considered for buiiding two more of the prisons they have been found incompetent to manage. They tried to collect $10 million from
Arizona for their empty beds at Kingman. LaSalle is supposedly being considered for building a prison in Winslow as well. That's part of the farce to fool the public into thinking this will be a competitive bidding process. LaSalle has experienced terrible escapes, much like the homocidal one from Kingman for which the state is being sued for $40 million. There is no available workforce to run even the state prison which has to import correctional officers mostly from Flagstaff and Holbrook.
CCA and GEO Group have a unique qualification as well: Their low-paid, poorly screened and marginally trained staff around the country have actually assisted the escapes of many prisoners. In Florida and New Mexico, they overbilled those states for millions of taxpayer dollars. Until we get a law that forces all corrupt corporations into bankruptcy, since we can't put them in jail, this situation will continue to prevail. (Some for-profit prison operators
have actually been forced out of business by lawsuits that have held them accountable for their negligence.) That's the record of the "qualified" bidders. Although we've put an end to the sordid career of Russ Pearce, there will be others to take his place at the head of the CCA-GEO feeding line. "