Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Definition of Insanity?

Arizona has had a lot of troubles with the private prisons it contracts with over the past few decades; the Kingman escapes last July were only the most recent in a long history of troubles (including those at Saguaro). Additionally, recent reports have found that privatization may not even save any money for the state, which is really the only selling point the privateers have going for them. Thankfully, the state rescinded a request for proposals for 5,000 new private prison beds following the Kingman escapes. Unfortunately however, the state has re-issued that request for private prison companies to pitch them on new beds.

I simply don't understand why the state continues to fail to learn from its past mistakes. Governor Brewer is a strong supporter of private prisons, possibly because some of her most trusted staffers currently are employed by, or used to work for, CCA. The new RFP has new protocols for companies pitching the new bed, but it's still a call to increase capacity among companies who haven't earned the trust they have. I guess the influence CCA bought in Arizona has truly paid off; the state seems incapable of breaking its addiction to private prisons, despite all the evidence demonstrating how terrible privatization is.

In fact, the Kingman prison still hasn't even responded properly to government pressure to improve its operations. A few state officials are unhappy with progress at the prison, with the House minority leader remarking that "they're still pretty far away from meeting their obligation... obviously their response has been inadequate." Basically, MTC has failed to properly secure and maintain the facility, even with the heightened scrutiny from the escapes. But I'm sure the company that wins the contract from this new proposal won't suffer from any of the same sorts of deficiencies that led to the escapes...

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