Earlier this month, prisoners incarcerated by the Arizona Department of Corrections at a for-profit private prison in Kingman, Arizona rioted and destroyed much of the facility. The recent unrest and violence at the Kingman prison should come as no surprise to any of us. In fact, we should have anticipated it. Under the management of MTC, a private for-profit prison corporation based in Utah, Kingman has been the site of other unconscionable and high-level disturbances, including the escape of three people who were later tied to the murder of a couple in New Mexico.
The following are remarks by Grassroots Leadership's Executive Director Bob Libal at a July 20th press conference at the Arizona House of Representatives:
I'm very happy to be here this morning with advocates, legislators, and members of the faith community calling for Arizona to implement policies that reduce reliance on mass for-profit incarceration.
Arizona's struggles with for-profit prisons are not unique. Private prisons are well-documented for cutting corners in staffing levels, staff training and staff benefits, all which lead to notably higher staff turnover rates in private prisons than in publicly run prisons. Of course, violence, disruptions, and staff incompetency is found in publicly run prisons, too. The difference is that, as publicly run entities, they can and should be held to account by the public. But when taxpayer dollars are used to outsource the management of prisons, we actually relinquish the right to holding these companies accountable. That, too, is unconscionable. States across the country have seen the kind of incidents that Arizona has saw at the Kingman facility over the past several years. In Texas, conditions at the Willacy County Correctional Center - also operated by Management and Training Corporation, the same private prison company - deteriorated and poorly trained prison leadership reacted so badly that immigrant prisoners rioted and destroyed the facility. Read more about Grassroots Leadership stands with Arizonans calling for an end to for-profit imprisonment