Urgent Action Alerts

For-Profit Prisons Threaten Public Safety

Last week, the Kingman state prison, operated by Management and Training Corporation (MTC), saw the latest in a string of riots. After several days of unrest, nine prison staff and seven incarcerated people were injured and the facilities were so badly damaged that the state is moving over 1,000 people out of the prison.

Sadly, this horrific situation is not new—for MTC or any other for-profit prison corporation. Simply put, you get what you pay for.

As far back as 2005, the Kingman facility experienced over “13 instances of large groups of inmates refusing directives and/or chasing staff off the yard.” In 2010, two people escaped from the facility and murdered a couple vacationing in New Mexico.

The Arizona Department of Corrections investigation into the escapes found that the alarm systems had been malfunctioning in the prison for over two years, but MTC failed to fix them. Why? Because it would cost too much money.

This is not an isolated case of a few bad apples. These problems are inherent in the business model of for-profit incarceration. These corporations are in business to make money first, and public safety comes second. Consider the competition:

    • CCA’s Idaho Correctional Center (ICC) had more assaults than all other Idaho prisons combined. Dubbed the “Gladiator School,” video footage showed a prisoner being severely beaten by another inmate, pleading for help as CCA guards looked on. CCA lost its $30 million contract for the prison with the state, and the FBI launched an investigation into the company in 2014.
    • The Texas Observer called the state’s CCA-run Dawson State Jail “the worst state jail in Texas.” Seven inmates have died in Dawson since 2004, generally due to medical neglect and malpractice. One prisoner gave birth to a premature baby after CCA guards refused her cries for medical attention. The baby was delivered in a prison toilet with no medical assistance and died four days later.
    • GEO Group lost a contract in Mississippi after a federal judge called the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions.
    • GEO Group signed a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor after being cited for failure to provide adequate staffing of correctional officers; fix malfunctioning cell door locks; and provide required training and personal protective equipment to protect employees from stabbings, bites and other injuries.

Of course, the state Department of Corrections is far from blameless. As far back as 2011, the Arizona Auditor General dinged the Department for its failure to properly manage its private prison contracts. Even when there are monumental failures, there appears to be no accountability for Arizona’s private prison contractors.

In about two weeks, all three of these companies (and probably others) will likely be submitting bids for up to 2,000 more medium security prison beds. In light of this latest fiasco, Governor Ducey has an obligation to stop the bidding process—at least until the investigation into the Kingman riots is complete. None of these companies deserve another billion dollar 20-year contract.

The riots in the MTC prison represent more than a costly blunder—they are a betrayal of the public’s trust. Our state leaders have handed over control of this critical public safety function to corporations that put their shareholder’s interests ahead of ours. We cannot afford to make this mistake again.


Please SEND AN EMAIL to Gov. Ducey’s staff and the Department of Corrections!: CLICK HERE

They need to hear from the people of this state before the July 22nd deadline for private prison bids.

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