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Arizona: Senate rejects mandate for private prisons

Wire Services, Associated Press
March 03, 2005

PHOENIX (AP) - The Senate on Tuesday refused to ask voters to amend the Arizona Constitution to require that any increase in the state's prison population be housed in privately operated prisons.

Several Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the measure, with critics saying operating prisons is a role for government and that there were unanswered questions about how the mandate would work.

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, supported the proposed strike-everything amendment proposed by Sen. Jack Harper, R-Sun City West.

"We owe it to the taxpayers of the great state of Arizona to house prisoners in the most cost effective manner available," Gould said.

Sen. Gabrielle Giffords, R-Tucson, said the mandate might force the state to increase its use of private prisons outside Arizona. That would separate prisoners from their families and make it harder for them to become productive members of society when released from prison, she said.

The state already uses privately operated prisons both inside Arizona and in other states but Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano favors relying on state-owned facilities.

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