Report Reveals Widespread Problems in Arizona’s Private Prisons: Cites Safety Issues, Lack of Accountability, and Cost

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 16, 2012

Contact:               Caroline Isaacs, (520) 256-4146 (cell), cisaacs@afsc.org

Report Reveals Widespread Problems in Arizona’s Private Prisons:

Cites Safety Issues, Lack of Accountability, and Cost

Phoenix:  Yesterday, a Quaker group that has been advocating against prison privatization in Arizona released an extensive report reviewing the safety, quality, and cost of private prisons in Arizona—including 6 prisons operated by Corrections Corporation of America that do not contract with the state.  The report is the first of its kind to be completed in Arizona, and reveals widespread and persistent problems in private facilities.

The report cites data showing that the private prisons under contract with the state cost more than equivalent units operated by the Department of Corrections.  The group estimates that in 2009 and 2010, Arizona overpaid for these units by as much as $7 million. If the state adds 2,000 medium-security private beds, Arizonans could be losing over $10 million every year on private prisons.

The report also reveals that all private prisons in Arizona for which security assessment information was available had serious security flaws:

  • The Arizona Auditor General found a total of 157 security failures in the 5 private prisons under contract with the Arizona Department of Corrections, including malfunctioning cameras, doors, and alarms; holes under fences; broken perimeter lights and cameras; and inefficient or outright inept security practices across the board by state and private corrections officers and managers.
  • California’s Inspector General found serious security flaws and improper treatment of California inmates held in three CCA prisons in Arizona.  Inspectors found flaws with the incident alarm-response systems at the three prisons because there was no audible alarm, and two were found to have malfunctioning and out-of-focus security cameras.
  • AFSC found evidence of at least 28 riots in private prisons since 2009.  The number of riots is likely underreported.  AFSC also found evidence of as many as 33 other serious disturbances involving groups of prisoners classified under “refusal to obey,” “tampering with state property,” and “obstructing an officer.”  Some of these incidents involved as many as 10, 20 and even 50 prisoners.
  • There were at least 6 escapes from inside Arizona private prisons in the past 10 years

 

The group is open-sourcing the supporting data used in the report.  Both the report and the documentation are available at:  http://afsc.org/arizona-prison-report.

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The American Friends Service Committee is a non-profit organization that works for justice and human rights both nationally and internationally.  The Arizona office, based in Tucson, advocates for criminal justice reform.

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