Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Goddard's First TV Ad—And Concerns About Privatizing Arizona Prisons

Posted By on Wed, Aug 18, 2010 at 3:55 PM

Democrat Terry Goddard has debuted his first TV in his race to unseat Gov. Jan Brewer.

Goddard also took Brewer to task over the ongoing push to privatize the state's prison system with a press release today:

A report published today by FORTUNE magazine takes to task the plan by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to privatize nearly the entire Arizona state prison system.

In light of the July 30th escape of three violent offenders from a privately run prison facility in Kingman, Ariz., the Governor is taking heat for her 2009 push to privatize 10 of the State's 11 prisons. In addition, recent reports have surfaced that two of Brewer's closest senior advisors have business ties to private prison contractor Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)-a likely beneficiary of the action-sparking further scrutiny of Brewer's decision to move forward with the plan. [KPHO-TV, July 22, 2010]

Beyond the questions of security, FORTUNE reporter D.M. Levine cites concerns that the private facilities may ultimately cost Arizona taxpayers more than those run by the State Department of Corrections:

"Despite claims from companies like CCA, the jury seems to be out on whether private prisons end up saving governments money. An audit by the accounting firm MAXIMUS conducted for Arizona compared the cost of public and private corrections facilities in 2007 and found that, on average, private facilities ended up saving the state $5.49 per inmate per day.

But more recently, an internal Arizona Department of Corrections report released in February 2010, found that, in 2009, those savings narrowed to around $2.75 per inmate per day, and in certain instances, private facilities were found to cost even more per day than public ones."

The piece goes on to point out that "private prisons also lack the incentive to help prepare inmates to return to society, leading to a higher rate of

recidivism (inmates returning to prison) and a higher overall cost to the prison system. Whether the prison provides rehabilitation services depends on the company's government contract, which is largely dictated by politics...

"Even [Damon] Hininger, CCA's CEO, admits that many states are asking for a reduction in prisoner rehabilitation services. 'That does have a negative impact on potential recidivism,' says Hininger."

FORTUNE also cites a previously released letter from Arizona Department of Correction Director Charles L. Ryan to Gov. Brewer expressing concern over the move toward privatization, in which he calls the action "bad public policy."

"This escape has put everything in stark relief," Arizona Attorney General and Brewer gubernatorial challenger Terry Goddard states in the FORTUNE piece. "A private company has an acceptable level of loss. In the case of violent offenders, I don't believe the public does or should tolerate any incidence of failure."

Brewer's response has been to consistently blame previous Governors for the failures that led to the escape, despite her recent statement to supporters in Lake Havasu City that since taking office she had "changed everything in government." [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ei_7Rpo498&feature=related at 00:00:35]

This contradicts a statement from earlier this month by Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman that "So far the governor has not announced plans...to radically revamp the objective inmate classification system that was last overhauled in 2005." [www.eastvalleytribune.com, 08/11/2010]

The complete text of the FORTUNE Magazine piece is available online at http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/17/news/economy/private_prisons_economic_impact.fortune/index.htm

For additional information on the Goddard for Governor campaign, please visit www.terrygoddard.com.

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