AZ Paying Private Firm $21M Per Year To House More Inmates

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The first group of 25 Arizona inmates will move into the Red Rock Correctional Center tomorrow as the state expands its reliance on private prisons to ease overcrowding in the penal system, reports the Arizona Republic. The state by January plans to transfer up to 1,000 medium-custody inmates to southern Pinal County, where Corrections Corporation of America said it is spending $40 million to build a new dormitory, renovate cells and expand recreation areas to handle the new inmates. The facility, which once housed inmates from other states, began accepting Arizona inmates in 2014. It already houses nearly 1,000 state inmates.

The state last year granted CCA a 20-year contract to house the inmates. The Tennessee-based company was the only bidder. The company will receive $66.35 a day per inmate, and the state will guarantee a 90 percent occupancy. The deal is projected to pay CCA at least $21 million a year. It’s the second time in 2½ years that Arizona has turned to CCA. The contract is projected to create 122 new jobs. The starting salary for a Red Rock guard is $34,320, slightly more than entry-level pay for state correctional officers. The average pay at Red Rock is about $36,000. Ron Credio, the state’s contract bed administrator, said the new CCA beds will ease tensions in other crowded prisons across Arizona. He said the state needs more medium-security beds because of a slight increase in the number of people being sentenced, and because some inmates in maximum and close-custody state prisons have improved their behavior enough to be reclassified to medium-security sites such as Red Rock.

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