Humpday Hall of Shame – AZ State Senator Ron Gould

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we’ll be highlighting the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

This week’s Hump Day Hall of Shame inductee is Ron Gould, who has served in the Arizona State Senate since 2005.  He hails from Lake Havasu where he served on the City Council.  Gould is a small businessman who owns “Air Conditioning Guy”, a heating and cooling company.  His district includes the city of Kingman, home of the infamous MTC prison.

His trajectory in the Senate is impressive:

And his politics are steeped in the Tea Party.  If you look closely at his laptop, you will see the Gadsden flag with the “Don’t Tread on Me” logo — an emblem of the Tea Party movement.

True to his conservative beliefs and connections Senator Ron Gould, as Chair of the Judiciary Committee, refused to hear bills on private prison oversight or sentencing reform.  In response he said that he “did not believe these bills are necessary.”  Take look at the bills after the jump.

• The private prison monitoring bill, HB 2298 would grant the auditor general authority to perform a special audit to examine and evaluate how the state department of corrections monitors private prison facilities.  The audit would include: security, inmate management and control, inmate programs and services, facility safety and sanitation, administration, food service, personnel practices and training, inmate health services and inmate discipline.

• HB 2300 would require that a private prison operator provide all records relating to costs, operations, staff and inmates to the same extent that is required of state, county or municipally operated prisons or jails.

• HB 2589 would require Legislative Hearings after a Private Prison Escape.

• HB 2590 speaks to liability for the cost of any emergency, public safety or security services provided to the private prison by the state.

As Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Gould deems monitoring, safety, management, sanitation, health services, discipline, accountability and liability, “not necessary”.

Senator Gould has taken sentencing reform off the table.  While many communities have lowered the number of incarcerated and the number of prison beds needed with sentencing reform, Gould has promised to block any sentencing reform bill that comes before his committee. “That’s something that will never be heard in the Judiciary Committee this year,” Gould said. “Citizens would be aghast if they heard we reduced penalties because of budget-related issues.”

We know what Senator Gould stands against, what does he stand for?  Well, he likes SB 1406, a bill that authorizes the Governor of Arizona to enter into a compact with other states to construct and maintain a secure fence along the Arizona-Mexico border.  The bill requires the state to use correctional inmates as well as private contractors to construct and maintain the border fence.

Gould has received at least $1,350 from lobbyists for and employees of the private prison industry.  These contributions include GEO lobbyist John Kaites and Thomas Dorn, an MTC (Management Training Corporation) consultant.  Given these contributions, we are not surprised that Judiciary Committee Chair Gould refuses to hear bills that would shine a light on the private prison industry.

We’re hearing that State Senator Gould may be eyeing a U.S. Representative seat.  Let's watch him closely and follow the money.  Such a good friend to the private prison industry will surely be compensated for his loyalty.