Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Challenging Privatization in Arizona

                Arizona is one of a few states looking to further privatize its prison system despite the industry’s consistently poor performance, after intensive lobbying campaigns convinced the legislature it was a good idea to continue to throw money into this black hole.  The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization, has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the state’s plans to privatize its prison system until it completes a cost/benefit analysis to demonstrate that private prisons can save money, as is mandated by the state constitution.  All available evidence seems to point to the contrary.
                The plan is also being challenged on the grounds that the state has failed to perform bi-annual audits of private prisons to compare the efficiency of their services to the government sector.  The state says they are working on a study, to be completed around January 2012, but still plans on just awarding contracts for up to 5,000 additional private prison beds in the meantime.
                Unfortunately a judge denied the motion, because AFSC could not prove that their interests would be harmed by the privatization.  Judge Anderson has basically permitted for the DOC to respond to the lawsuit, rather than filing an injunction to prevent the privatization, which is the proper legal avenue to take.  But as Caroline Issacs of AFSC said, “Certainly, the taxpayers are harmed by wasting $650 million.”

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