Arizona May Buy Private Prison Near Kingman

Published: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - 5:19pm
Updated: Thursday, June 16, 2016 - 12:44pm

(Photo via corrections.az.gov)
Arizona State Prison-Kingman.

Arizona corrections officials will ask the Joint Committee on Capital Review on Thursday to endorse a plan buy the private prison near Kingman, a move projected to save the state about $78 million.

The state switched operators last year after days of riots left parts of the facility unusable, and a subsequent investigation showed a culture of disorganization and disregard for state policies at the prison.

The JCCR will give a favorable or unfavorable review of the refinancing proposal. If approved, the $8.7 a million a year in savings would go toward:

  • $2.5 million for a per diem adjustment at the Kingman facility
  • $2.7 million to fund a health care inflation adjustment at state-run Arizona Department of Corrections facilities
  • $1.6 million for a new Northern Regional Community Corrections Center in Maricopa County
  • $1.9 million has yet to be allocated

State Sen. Steve Farley said he wants to know more about the possibility that a deal means there would be no more property taxes paid on the prison before deciding on the proposal.

“It looks to my eye like a loss of $1.1 to $1.6 million for Mohave County per year,” Farley, a Democrat from Tucson, said. “I don’t know if anybody has considered that, either. That’s a pretty big loss for a small county.”

The proposal makes financial sense for the state, said Caroline Isaacs, program director for the American Friends Service Committee office in Tucson, which is a prison policy reform advocate group.

“We are overpaying on our private prison contracts primarily because we have to pay those companies back for having built the facilities,” Isaacs said. “It’s kind of like a payday loan. We end up paying for the facilities several times over.”

When the state bought the private prison in Marana, the operations contract went to Management & Training Corporation, Isaacs said. MTC Corrections ran the Kingman prison until 2015 when the Arizona voided its contract over conditions that led to the riots.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story said the Joint Budget Legislative Committee would consider the proposal. It is the Joint Committee on Capital Review.

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