The administration of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has moved to reopen two private prisons a year after mothballing them after a company that stands to profit retained consultants close to the governor, the Los Angeles Times reports. Officials attribute the reversal to an unexpected rise in the number of prisoners. Critics point to the private prison company’s lobbying. One facility is a 224-bed prison in McFarland, Ca. The GEO Group Inc. of Florida ran it for 15 years until Dec. 31, 2003. The company retained a top Schwarzenegger campaign official and a lobby firm that has close ties to the Republican’s administration to restore the company’s standing.
“This was an administration that said they weren’t going to be influenced by special interests,” said Lance Corcoran of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which opposes private lockups. Six corporate-owned prisons, three of which are GEO-run facilities, house 2,550 of the state’s 165,000 inmates. Inmates in the private lockups are considered low-security. A company called Civigenics stands to receive $5.7 million from the state to operate the 340-bed Mesa Verde facility in Bakersfield. “We’ve got to get additional beds,” said Kevin Carruth of the California Youth and Adult Correctional Agency official who pushed to reopen the private prisons.