AFSC files suit to postpone Arizona private prison contract


We’ve been following Arizona’s request for proposals (RFP) from private corporations to build 5,000 new private prison beds. We've also documented the cozy ties between many Arizona legislators and prison officials with the private prison industry and its lobbyists.

So, it was welcome news yesterday to see that the American Friends Service Committee, who has been leading a charge against prison privatization in Arizona, has filed suit to postpone the RFP.  Read the AFSC's rationale from their press release after the jump.

"The American Friends Service Committee filed an injunction yesterday in Maricopa County Superior Court to prevent the Department of Corrections from awarding any contracts for new private prisons until the state completes a statutorily-required review of the performance of for-profit prisons in Arizona.  The Department of Corrections has said it might award the contracts as soon as this Friday, September 16.  The AFSC therefore asked a Judge to grant a temporary restraining order to halt the contract awards until the court can hold a hearing on the AFSC’s request for injunction.

The Special Assignment Judge, Arthur Anderson, had not ruled on the temporary restraining order as of 9:00am this morning, but is expected to make a decision later today.

In a press conference held yesterday, Caroline Isaacs, Program Director of the American Friends Service Committee office in Arizona, read through a list of actions the group and its members and constituents had taken prior to filing suit to stop the contracts from being awarded, including discussions with the Department of Corrections, meetings with the Secretary of State and Attorney General’s offices, petitions, legislation, and participation in public hearings.  “And yet, in spite of all evidence that privatization of prisons is an utter failure and waste of our scarce state budget dollars, the state is prepared to hand over another $650 million to one of these companies, possibly the same one whose gross negligence led to the deaths of two people last summer,” she said."

We'll keep you posted on further developments from Arizona.