February 15, 2012 the American Friends Services Committee’s Arizona office released an extensive report reviewing the safety, quality, and cost of private prisons in Arizona – including six prisons operated by Corrections Corporation of America but not under contract with the state. The report reveals widespread and persistent problems in private facilities around safety, lack of accountability, and cost.
The data shows that private prisons under contract with the state cost more than equivalent units operated by the state Department of Corrections. AFSC estimates that in 2009 and 2010, Arizona overpaid for these units by as much as $7 million. If the state adds 2,000 medium-security private beds, as it has proposed, Arizonans could be losing over $10 million every year on private prisons.
The report reveals all private prisons for which security assessment data was available had serious security flaws. While no prison can be entirely safe or problem-free, private prisons demonstrate clear, long-standing patterns of prisoner unrest including riots, staffing and management issues, escapes, and other serious safety problems.
Private prison companies largely are unaccountable to the state or the taxpayers; they are not subject to the same transparency, reporting or oversight requirements as government agencies. This makes it impossible, even for state officials, to do a full comparative analysis of their operations. This is the most comprehensive report completed to-date on Arizona's private prisons. Many of the issues likely apply to private prisons nationwide.