We are spending a lot of money on prisons in Arizona. It's time to stand up and demand, "Is it working?! Are we safer?"
Inmates "mistreated en masse," wasting taxpayers' dollars, half of inmates are repeat offenders, murderers escaping, private prison contracts that guarantee full beds for for-profit corporations, are just some of the problems of our Arizona prisons. The riots at the private prison in Kingman were just the tip of the iceberg. Are our lawmakers directing DOC administrators to take actions that make us safer? Or are lawmakers pandering to a notion that putting more people in prison is a magic wand?
Governor Ducey responded to the report about the riots by firing the current private-prison management company, and turning it over to another private-prison management company. He also had some sugary words to say at a press conference.
Governor, your bandaid and a cookie response will not fix our AZ prison problems.
“I would describe this report as scathing,” Governor Ducey said. Then he added Let's "assign the contract to a new operator,..." That is far, far from enough.
We need Real Solutions Now. Not a hand-off of the problem from one flawed provider to another.
We need legislators and a governor who make it a priority to emphasize the "CORRECTIONS" part of the Department of Corrections. In the last legislative session, a good step forward would have been SB1390. It would have put more ...
... SB1390 would have put more inmates into transition programs to help them re-enter society with better skills to stay out of prison.
It is a practical, proven solution. It could have saved over $1 million per year.
It had unanimous support in 2 committees.
It was not passed because of political shenanigans.
It would have saved the state the cost of 3,000 inmates in the first year alone! Compare that to the fact that the Arizona Legislature just passed a budget that requires building new space for 2,000 more inmates.
So, they could have passed SB1390 and Saved over $1 million per year.
Instead, they passed a budget that will Require a Cost Increase of at least $25 million per year. They made a cost increase, instead of a savings. Why? Who is donating to their campaigns?
In interviews, inmates said they rioted because guards treated them with disrespect.
"Some prisoners have committed heinous crimes and probably do not deserve respect," I'll guess you're thinking.
I hear ya' on that!
But a lot of prisoners have committed crimes of really bad decisions and should get the treatment that leads to their return to society with the skills to be productive, law-abiding persons. They should not be abused with unsafe food, and random acts of violence against them by guards. Treating offenders with random violence in prison will result in offenders treating people with random violence when they get out. A 19-year-old who is convicted of a drug charge, and no other offense, should get drug rehabilitation and a path to job skills.
Instead, the statistics show that far too many inmates return. The Arizona Department of Corrections produces, "Corrections at a Glance," a document showing prison data. 49.2% of inmates had a prior term in Arizona Corrections as of July, 2015!
We need to incentivize prisons to Correct inmates' behaviors. Reduce recidivism.
Just using up our tax dollars for private-prison profits and having offenders breath prison air is not making us safer.
I want to see our tax dollars produce better public safety. If you do too, go like my Facebook page to get further updates and information.