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Arizona: PCI releases report questioning AZ cost studies.

February 23, 2005
Contact: Caroline Isaacs
American Friends Service Committee
520-623-9141 (ph)
520-623-5901 (fax)

Report Shows Arizona Private Prisons May Not Save Money: “Analysis Shows Growth in Private Prison Costs Outstrips Public”

A report released today by the Private Corrections Institute (PCI), a non-profit advocacy group, re-examines the research that supporters of prison privatization say shows that private prisons are cheaper than state-run ones. The report found that the existing research on the success of privatization in Arizona suffers from serious methodological flaws, is badly outdated, and, in at least one case, has been discredited by the investigator’s financial ties to the industry.

The report finds that generous contracts approved by former DOC Director Terry Stewart may have pushed the cost of private prisons above that of public facilities and could cost the state an additional $3 million a year.

The report also explores the lesser-known issue of private prison financing, and reveals disturbing evidence of hidden liabilities for counties and the state regarding popular lease-revenue bonds for new prison construction. In certain cases, Arizona could be forced to keep contracts with private prison operators even if the beds were no longer needed or the facilities were completely mismanaged, out of fears for the state or county’s credit rating.

The report concludes that a comprehensive, independent cost comparison study between Arizona’s public and private prisons must be conducted prior to any further contracts being awarded. Such a study must take into account the differences in inmate populations, facility age and architecture, and other factors that have rendered previous studies invalid.

According to Private Corrections Institute Executive Director, Ken Kopczynski, “the problems identified in this study are unfortunately not unique to Arizona. We have identified similar issues in Florida and other states. In these difficult financial times, it is important that decision-makers know the truth about these facilities.”

The research was conducted by Justice Strategies, a non-profit criminal justice policy research group, at the request of two Arizona organizations: Arizona Leadership Institute and the American Friends Service Committee.

The report can be found at:

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