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Arizona’s Private Prisons: A Bad Bargain
by Sasha Abramsky
Posted April 8, 2012

for profit?In mid-February, the Arizona chapter of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) released a report on the impact of private prisons in the state. Private Prisons: the Public’s Problem concluded that Arizona overpaid for private prison services between 2008 and 2010 to the tune of $10 million, and that the services it received were shoddy at best: malfunctioning alarm systems, fences with holes in them, staff who didn’t follow basic procedures and many other failings. All told, the state’s auditor general documented 157 serious security failings across five facilities that hold in-state prisoners. (There are three additional private prisons.) At least twenty-eight riots were also reported.

“The main purpose of a prison is to reduce crime,” said the AFSC’s report. “The only measurement available of how well a prison performs this function is its recidivism rates.” Yet, “none of the corporations operating in Arizona measure recidivism.” The report noted that at the private facilities there were higher staff turnover and lower staff qualifications, as well as more cases of violence than in state prisons. More…

The incentives of a for profit private prison system are all wrong. Their inventive is to maximize the number of inmates for maximium profit. A state based system has the incentive to minimize the number of inmates to reduce costs. Withe the huge growth in private prison systems, is it any wonder that the US inmate population is exploding?