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Arizona awards private prison contract to CCA

A contract for 1,000 new private prison beds has been awarded to Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corp. of America by the Arizona Department of Corrections.

State officials announced their choice of CCA late Friday over five other companies that submitted bids. CCA plans to house the medium-security male prisoners in an existing facility it owns in Eloy, about 60 miles south of Phoenix. The contract requires 500 available beds by January 2014 and the additional 500 a year late.

Critics called the expansion plan unnecessary and costly. A Quake advocacy group critical of private prisons challenged the planned contract award twice, but lost both in court and an administrative proceeding.

Prison officials acknowledge that growth in the overall inmate population has come to a virtual stop and a 2009 plan to add 5,000 beds was scrapped.

But prison officials say the system still needs extra space because of safety risks posed by putting more inmates in prisons above their designed capacity. It said in a news release announcing the contract award that the state currently has a 30-bed shortage in medium-security facilities despite having more than 2,800 temporary beds.

The state has housed additional prisoners by putting two bunks in cells designed for one inmate and by converting day rooms and other space into dormitories.

The 5,000-bed plan was delayed and then scaled back after security at a privately operated state prison near Kingman was found to be deficient after three inmates escaped in 2010. That prison is operated by Management and Training Corp.

Two of the three inmates who escaped have been charged with killing an Oklahoma couple in New Mexico.

Arizona now uses private prisons to house about 6,500 of its approximately 40,000 inmates.

CCA has connections to Gov. Jan Brewer, with close friend and adviser Chuck Coughlin working for the Nashville-based company until July, according to the Arizona Republic. Records also show CCA employs a lobbying firm that includes former Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman.

Correction spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said lobbying had no influence on the decision, and CCA told the Republic that the company was chosen on the merits of its bid.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


  1. CCA told the Republic that the company was chosen on the merits of it’s bid? What a laugh. The general public was never able to view the cost study that proved it is more expensive to fund a private prison over a state run prison. The cost study proved private prisons were more costly, yet Brewer pushes forward BECAUSE of her connection to CCA. Gee I wonder who owns stock in CCA?

  2. Welcome home from your vacations and GOP Convention to the news…..

    Arizona’s Governor and legislators have officially turned Arizona in a “prison state”, one, that no informed tourist, visitor, new business or family would want to work or live in. All done behind closed doors, once again in August, contracts hauled out to be signed in the hottest month of year, when people are gone. Signed on Friday, August 31st AFTER 5:00 on a holiday week-end is shameful. This critical change missing from the local news and their websites.

    Prisons are the publics problem. The state has the responsibility for the safety and care of those in their custody who have committed crimes in their state. Crimes created by lawmakers who have sentenced non-violent first offenders to 75 years a defacto life sentence.

    The unforeseen consequences of the Governor’s decision to continue the self-destruction of Arizona, while slashed education had put Arizona on a very dark and grim path for its people, putting ALL at risk for harm and liabilities. This decision done behind closed doors or in the office of the Arizona Department of Corrections by Director Chuck Ryan with Chuck Coughlin / CCA High Ground lobby is what one would expect in uncivilized Third World countries.

    Folks, you can thank your Arizona legislators, the Governor, Chuck Coughlin, lobbyists High Ground (defacto-governor of the state) and the power of the powerful mass industrial prison complex / BOP that has given the United States the shameful distinction of U.S. #1 Jailer in the World. Those who made decisions to send Terry Stewart and Chuck Ryan to set up prisons in Abu Ghraib and foreign countries where the world saw the “torture and abuse” in 2004 Abu Ghraib. Then to allow these wardens / directors back in the U.S. to “take-over” prisons in America is wrong at so many levels. Raises the question of who “controls” America and Arizona?

    Arizona does NOT need price beds, so what is the “business model”? So why did they take over $50,000,000 that could have been used for education, health care, job training, job creation and building stronger communities?

    The notion that Arizona, as prison state for America is being heard. One that churns $$’s importing and exporting inmates (human beings turned into commodities for $$’s) is unethical and immoral.

    Arizona as a dumping ground for other states who can dump THEIR violent criminals into Arizona “system” is nothing more than human trafficking.

    Where are the “compassionate conservatives” the GOP has labeled itself under Bush? Pure hypocrisy and dishonest to the people. As we see, after Arizoona has shown the world who they are, these will be Hell-holes in Arizona for those they hate and to cleanse society. Shameful.

  3. Correction spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said lobbying had no influence on the decision.”

    Mr. Lamoreaux, Your statement is false. Not all the public is uninformed or ignorant in Arizona.

  4. Arizona this is your history, that all should read who voted for the politicos who have sold you out.

    Sunbelt Justice: Arizona and the Transformation of American Punishment – Mona Lynch


    “In the late 20th century, the United States experienced an incarceration explosion. Over the course of twenty years, the imprisonment rate quadrupled, and today more than than 1.5 million people are held in state and federal prisons. Arizona’s Department of Corrections came of age just as this shift toward prison warehousing began, and soon led the pack in using punitive incarceration in response to crime. Sunbelt Justice looks at the development of Arizona’s punishment politics, policies, and practices, and brings to light just how and why we have become a mass incarceration nation.”

  5. http://www.pewtrusts.org/news_room_detail.aspx?id=49696

    One in 31 U.S. Adults are Behind Bars, on Parole or Probation

    Washington, DC – 03/02/2009 – “Explosive growth in the number of people on probation or parole has propelled the population of the American corrections system to more than 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 U.S. adults, according to a report released today by the Pew Center on the States. The vast majority of these offenders live in the community, yet new data in the report finds that nearly 90 percent of state corrections dollars are spent on prisons. One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections examines the scale and cost of prison, jail, probation and parole in each of the 50 states, and provides a blueprint for states to cut both crime and spending by reallocating prison expenses to fund stronger supervision of the large number of offenders in the community.

    “Most states are facing serious budget deficits,”said Susan Urahn, managing director of The Pew Center on the States. “Every single one of them should be making smart investments in community corrections that will help them cut costs and improve outcomes.”

    In the past two decades, state general fund spending on corrections increased by more than 300 percent, outpacing other essential government services from education, to transportation and public assistance. Only Medicaid spending has grown faster. Today, corrections imposes a national taxpayer burden of $68 billion a year. Despite this increased spending, recidivism rates have remained largely unchanged.”

  6. Arizona’s Private Prisons: A Bad Bargain | The Nation


    “Since 1997 Arizona’s prison spending has increased from
$409 million per year to more than $1 billion today. Yet the state is still playing catch-up: it never has enough money to pay for its incarceration obligations. That’s because Arizona’s prison population continues to soar; it’s currently at nearly 40,000—and rising fast. In an attempt to manage this growing population, the Department of Corrections has moved since 1986 to privatize services. Its current five-year plan notes that “with over 600 current contracts the Department uses private contractors for many functions, including private prisons that house inmates in-state; correctional health services” and much more.

    Currently, more than 16 percent of the state’s prisoners are in private facilities that also play host to prisoners from states, like Hawaii, that have run out of prison beds and have farmed out their surplus to the lowest bidder. Other private facilities house wards of the US Marshals Service, mainly undocumented immigrants marked for deportation.

    Arizona’s privatization schemes have become wackier in the face of recession budget woes. Legislators have sold off and then leased back the State Capitol building and pushed for the wholesale privatization of the prison system. The industry, however, is not interested. Private prisons profit only when they can cherry-pick the inmates—setting the conditions for those they’ll accept and rejecting violent or seriously ill inmates—and can make the state cover the hidden costs of running a prison, such as training drug-sniffing dogs and processing release paperwork.

    Claims about the cost-effectiveness of private prisons are an illusion. As the AFSC report makes clear, private prisons cost as much as, if not more than, state-run facilities; they endanger public safety; and they result in a worrying level of inmate-on-inmate and inmate-staff violence. Instead of privatizing basic public services in an attempt to maintain incarceration rates without the tax base to support them, states like Arizona should have a sensible discussion about how best to reduce their stunningly high inmate population. It would be the fiscally prudent approach. It would also be the most ethical solution to America’s incarceration problem.”

    Private Prisons: The Public’s Problem | American Friends Service Committee


    A quality assessment of Arizona’s Private Prisons

    “Arizona has enthusiastically embraced prison privatization, with 13% of the state prison population housed in private facilities (the 11th highest percentage in the nation). Motivated by a belief that private enterprise could build and manage prisons safely and at lower cost than the state, the legislature has mandated construction of thousands of private prison beds. Little was done over the years to test actual performance of private prisons or to determine their cost effectiveness.”

    The complete report is 105 pages.


  7. AFSC_Arizona_Prison_Report.pdf

  8. What Arizona Prison Watch had to say:

    “It isn’t any wonder this is the case, since Jan Brewer is putting our money into building new prisons instead – prisons most people would agree we would never need if we funded education and public mental health care properly in the first place (not with more sales tax, though, folks – that’s pretty regressive and burdens the poor and middle class unfairly…).

    Check out the Cradle-to-prison-pipeline for more on how factors like child poverty, illiteracy and adult incarceration are entwined. AZ used to project new prison growth based on our children’s third grade reading scores – perhaps we still do. That should tell you a lot.

    The following stats are from a March 2012 slide show addressing literacy and crime by the AZ Department of Education…”

  9. “Welcome to Arizona “prison state”…..

    Poor decisions by the Governor, ADC Director and Legislators have brought Arizona taxpayers huge liabilities and have put ALL at great risk for harm. It’s time for the local media to start a daily “prison ” column where the public can become informed on the reality of living in Arizona as a police / prison state. This daily/weekly column is a place where the public can have dialog. Many people participated for years at the state Capitol, in Rep. Cecil Ash’s House Sentencing committees – open to all. Prison reform and criminal justice reform rallies were held at the Capitol. Yet the people were ignored by the Governor and legislators. It is disgraceful that the legislators / prosecutors (paid for by the taxpayers) REFUSE TO REFORM poorly written, outdated, and draconian laws that guarantee obscene $$$’s for the prison profiteers. Where a non-violent, first offender is sentenced to 75 years for “touching” in a swimming pool. Where changing a baby’s diaper is technically “child molest”. If you think this is not about you, think again. ALL are at risk for great harm and waste of taxpayers scarce $$’s.

    “Prison nurse tied to hepatitis C exposure” (comments UNavailable)


    Get used to life as a “prison state”. Medical care and services “privatized”. The state has the responsibility for those in their custody, for their safety and well-being. While these officials are “growing” the prison population, they are growing huge liabilities, lawsuits / costly litigation, chaos, waste of taxpayers $$$’s and pure destruction.

    “Study: Arizona 1st in cuts to schools” (comments available)


    The Governor and your legislators invested in incarceration rather than education and a better Arizona for the society.

  10. Crony capitalism and political corruption at its best. Nice payoff from the Gov to her boys Chuck Coughlin and Paul Senseman, who work (or worked) for her and CCA.

  11. Arizona following California into the abyss…

    California Spending More On Prisons Than Colleges, Report Says


  12. Instead of paying a private prison to make up for the shortage of medium custody why can’t ADC just do classification overrides on all those non-violent, non-sexual offenders and fill up the vacant minimum security beds. (They can)

  13. 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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