From Fortune/CNN -
What's costlier than a government run prison? A private oneOther highlights from the article -
Early this month, three convicted murderers escaped from a prison in Kingman, a small town along Route 66 in northwest Arizona. According to reports, the inmates had broken free from the facility by using a pair of wire cutters. They'd escaped from a medium-security facility operated by Utah-based Management & Training Corp, a private corrections company.
The incident set off a political furor, not over the fact that the three violent criminals were being held in a medium-security prison, but over the security of the facility itself, and, ultimately, over Arizona's widespread use of private correctional facilities.
Arizona Attorney General Goddard says that his state Department of Corrections has nearly zero oversight over the prisons that house out-of-state inmates in his state.
"They don't have to show proof of financial responsibility, they don't have to comply with Arizona prison construction standards, they don't have to report disruptions. . .and both the training and staffing is up to the private operator," Goddard says. "There were a couple of private prisons that went on lockdown and refused to allow the Department of Corrections to come in."
Despite claims from companies like CCA, the jury seems to be out on whether private prisons end up saving governments money. An audit by the accounting firm MAXIMUS conducted for Arizona compared the cost of public and private corrections facilities in 2007 and found that, on average, private facilities ended up saving the state $5.49 per inmate per day.
But more recently, an internal Arizona Department of Corrections report released in February 2010, found that, in 2009, those savings narrowed to around $2.75 per inmate per day, and in certain instances, private facilities were found to cost even more per day than public ones.
The ADC report mentioned in the article can be found here; reports for prior years can be found on this page.
More on the Brewer Administration's ties to private prison companies here (KTAR.com) and here (Rachel Maddow via Crooks and Liars.com)