Since Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, agrees that policy decisions regarding private prisons should be based on facts in his recent commentary “Private prisons are efficient, cost effective” published March 30, it might interest readers to know about the chamber’s cozy relationship with private prison corporations and their Arizona lobbyists.
Here are some facts:
• Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is a “Board Level” corporate member of the chamber. The company is currently bidding on the contract for 2,000 prison beds in Arizona.
• The chamber’s Board of Directors includes Wendy Briggs, a lobbyist for Veridus, LLC. Veridus’ clients have included GEO Group, the world’s second-largest private prison corporation. GEO Group is also bidding on the contract for 2,000 beds.
• Another chamber Board member is John Kaites, owner of lobbying firm Public Policy Partners, which also lobbies for GEO Group. Kaites also lobbies at the federal level on issues of “private correctional detention management.”
• The chamber has close ties with R&R Partners, which lists Prison Health Services (PHS) as a client. PHS just merged with Corizon, and has submitted a bid for a contract to take over medical care for the Arizona Department of Corrections. Two chamber staff members, Jim Norton and Marc Osborn, both lobby on behalf of PHS.
I’m confident that readers will evaluate the guest opinion touting private prisons in light of the fact that chamber Board members and staff have a vested interest in seeing the expansion of prison privatization in Arizona.
— Caroline Isaacs is program director for the American Friends Service Committee.