Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and other Arizona sheriffs' offices say the state is needlessly spending money to move inmates to a new private prison when they could be held in county facilities for millions of dollars less per year, reports the Arizona Republic. The sheriffs said they would be willing to take state prisoners after Republic reported that the state would begin housing inmates at the privately held Red Rock Correctional Center near Eloy. The state guarantees owner Corrections Corporation of America a profit with an occupancy rate of at least 90 percent at the new facility.
CCA has become the third private-prison operator for the state corrections department, which has been told by the legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer to use private facilities to ease prison overcrowding. Critics — including Arpaio and other sheriffs — say those facilities are a waste of state resources and funnel tax dollars into the bottom line of companies that pay their top executives seven figures. “The state should be supporting the counties and not try competing against them,” said Brannon Eager, the Apache County sheriff's chief deputy. “It's obvious the existing sheriffs' jails could house inmates cheaper than private prisons.”