Brandishing a fake gun and using ladders stolen from a maintenance building, two convicted killers climbed over the walls of a private prison in Florence, Az., in September, and escaped. They were later caught, but Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano wants to tighten up rules for the state’s growing private-prison industry, which is virtually unregulated, says the Arizona Republic. A legislative proposal would bar private prisons from importing murderers, rapists, and some other dangerous or seriously ill felons to Arizona. It would also require the companies to share security and inmate information with state officials.
“It is a matter of public safety,” said Dennis Burke, Napolitano’s chief of staff. “(Other states) are exporting their worst criminals to Arizona, and we can’t even know what they are doing and what steps they are taking to protect Arizonans.” Private-prison officials and other industry supporters say the bill could threaten the industry, which is the largest employer in Pinal County. Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest private-prison firm, runs five Arizona prisons, including the one where the escape took place. A company official opposed the proposed changes “because we invested based on the current rules.” More than 9,000 felons from Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, and other states and the federal government are housed in six of 11 privately run prisons in Arizona. Unlike other states, Arizona has no restrictions on the kind of out-of-state inmates that can be brought there.