Quaker Group Files Against Private Prison due to State Law Violations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Caroline Isaacs, 520.256.4146 (cell); cisaacs@afsc.org

Quaker Group Files Protest with State Procurement Office:

Says Private Prison RFP Violates State Law, Procurement Code

Phoenix:  In an unprecedented move, the American Friends Service Committee has filed a protest with the State Procurement Office over the Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the Department of Corrections for 2,000 private, for-profit prison beds.

The AFSC was joined by the NAACP of Maricopa County in filing the protest.

The protest letter, sent to the Department of Corrections’ Chief Procurement Officer as well as the head of the Arizona State Procurement Office, argues that the state of Arizona does not need and cannot afford more prison beds, and that the existing prison contracts violate state statutes requiring  private prisons to cost less and provide the same or better quality of service as state prisons.

The groups cite Arizona Department of Corrections cost studies that show that some private prisons are more expensive than equivalent state units.  They also point to a host of security inspections, Auditor General Investigations, and other published data that reveal that private prisons have inferior safety standards, including faulty alarms.

The groups also argue that the private, for-profit prison corporations are in violation of their contracts with Arizona.  They specifically cite Uniform Contract Terms and Conditions that require the private prisons have adequate staffing levels.

The state has fined both Management and Training Corporation (which operates prisons in Kingman and Marana) and GEO Group (which runs Florence West, Phoenix West, and the Central Arizona Correctional Facility) for failing to fill staff vacancies quickly enough.  The state’s Biennial Comparison Review, completed in December of 2011, also showed that all the state-contracted private prisons have high staff vacancy and turnover rates.

The current prison contract terms also specifically cite recidivism rates as an “outcome measure,” yet none of the private, for-profit prison corporations even measure recidivism.

Caroline Isaacs, the Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Arizona office, says that the group’s research clearly shows that private prisons are not making good on the promises they made to state taxpayers.  “They do not save money, they are not safe, and they are not rehabilitating prisoners.  If those were the justifications for privatization, it’s clear this experiment has been a failure.”  She cites a 100-page report on private prisons in Arizona the group released in February.  The report, Private Prisons:  The Public’s Problem, is available online at:  http://afsc.org/arizona-prison-report.

The groups are asking the State Procurement Office to immediately halt the prison RFP process while the SPO Administrator reviews the protest.  They then have requested that the state formally and permanently cancel the RFP and award no contracts for new private prisons.

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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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