Thursday, September 23, 2010

Arizona is Indeed Seeking More Private Beds

Arizona just re-issued a request for proposals (RFP) for 5,000 new private prison beds.  Instead of following national trends towards reforming parole/probation, de-prioritizing drug prosecution, and increasing alternatives to confinement that have reduced prison populations in places like Texas and New York, they have just decided to solicit more prison beds.  This is the second RFP they have put out this year (after they tried unsuccessfully to sell then lease back the state government building.  Seriously.); the first was cancelled shortly after the escapes from the Kingman prison, amid the public perception that "hey, maybe private prisons aren't all they're cracked up to be."

This new RFP is slightly revised, and contains more stringent regulations on the oversight of the potential contract.  It has stronger enforcement mechanisms for non-compliance (meaning the government will be able to asses stronger penalties), stricter reporting requirements, and more formalized auditing procedures.  So basically whichever company wins the bid will be subject to greater oversight due to MTC's failure to maintain a secure facility.   While I am still adamantly opposed to increasing the amount of private prison beds, at least any beds that come about in response to this RFP will be better-regulated than the private prisons currently being operated in the state (in theory, anyway.).

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