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Arizona Chamber has a vested interest in private prison expansion

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.


  1. Just to add to the factual accuracy, Wexford Healthcare Sources was awarded the contact for inmate healthcare services. Corizon submitted a bid — along with several other contractors — but did not win it. The transition to private inmate healthcare is supposed to take place soon.

    The state-operated prison system is the leader when it comes to long-standing issues of staff abuse of inmates (Re: Marcia Powell, Tony Lester, Shannon Palumer, just to name a few). The entire list is far too long to mention here. Litigation and settlement costs for wrongful deaths and other serious issues must be taken into account when considering the “cost” of inmate care in Arizona’s public prisons.

  2. Concerned Citizen

    Private Prisons Gone Wild — In These Times

  3. Concerned Citizen

    Ties That Bind: Arizona Politicians and the Private Prison Industry — In These Times

  4. Private Prison Management Company Seeks Guaranteed 90% Occupancy From States | Kulture Kritic


    “Ohio’s deal requires the state to maintain a 90% occupancy rate, but Janes said that provision remains in effect for 18 months — not 20 years — before it can be renegotiated. As part of the deal, Ohio pays the company a monthly fee, totaling $3.8 million per year. Roger Werholtz, former Kansas secretary of corrections, said states may be tempted by the “quick infusion of cash,” but he would recommend against such a deal. ”My concern would be that our state would be obligated to maintain these (occupancy) rates and subtle pressure would be applied to make sentencing laws more severe with a clear intent to drive up the population,” Werholtz said.”

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