More than 100 convicts from Arizona spent their first night in an Indiana prison cell Monday, the first wave of 1,260 inmates expected during the next 10 weeks, the Indianapolis Star reports. Gov. Mitch Daniels said the agreement means an additional 230 jobs will be created at the New Castle facility, which is Indiana’s only privately managed prison. The one-year contract will generate about $6.1 million in revenue for the state and can be terminated at any time if Indiana needs the space for in-state offenders.
The prison, which opened in 2002, houses 1,038 inmates but has a capacity for 2,416. Arizona has 36,000 incarcerated, roughly 5,000 more than the system is designed to hold. Arizona’s prison population is among the fastest-growing in the country, fueled in part by a surge in state residents. The state’s prison population could grow by more than a third by the end of 2011, said a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Donna Leone Hamm of Middle Ground Prison Reform, an Arizona-based nonprofit inmate advocacy group, said sending inmates out of state is a bad idea. “Family visitation is almost precluded for the vast majority of families and children of prisoners,” said Hamm. “All the studies that have ever been done on this topic demonstrate that family and community support for an inmate during his incarceration greatly impacts his potential for successful reintegration after his release.”