Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Update on Lawsuit Challenging Privatization in Arizona

Arizona is currently seeking proposals from private prison companies to construct 5,000 new prison beds, even though an auditor for the state has found that private prisons cost more to operate than state-run facilities.  The state has also failed to conduct efficiency reviews of its existing private prisons for the past few decades, so information about their quality of services and contract performance is limited at best.

A group called the American Friends Service Committee has been steadily challenging the request for proposals, most recently by filing a lawsuit to try to force the state to hold off on awarding contracts until the state reviews existing facilities.  There is actually a state law requiring these reviews take place at least every 2 years.  The lawsuit was thrown out on a technicality.  But the AFSC continues to battle against the private prison industry, and they have just filed an appeal of the dismissal, asking the court to determine the substantive issue at hand rather than taking the easy way out of reviewing whether the state should embark on such a risky venture.

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