Arizona’s private prisons are not cost-effective for taxpayers and are more difficult to monitor than state prisons, says a new report by a prison watchdog group that is calling for a moratorium on any new private prisons in the state, says the Arizona Republic. The report examined the five prisons that have contracts to house Arizona prisoners and six private prisons that house federal detainees or inmates from other states, including California and Hawaii.
Based on public-information requests and other data, the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group that works on criminal-justice reform, concluded that Arizona paid $10 million more for private prison beds between 2008 and 2010 than it would have for equivalent state beds. Arizona’s pending plan to contract for another 2,000 private-prison beds would cost taxpayers at least $38.7 million a year, at least $6 million a year more than incarcerating those inmates in state prisons. Plans to add 500 maximum-security beds in state prisons would add almost $10 million a year. The report questioned whether those beds are needed, since the prison population has declined over the past two years by more than 900 inmates, to 39,854.