Research | Corrections spending | Privatization | February 2012
By the American Friends Service Committee
Arizona has enthusiastically embraced prison privatization, with 13% of the state prison population housed in private facilities (the 11th highest percentage in the nation). Motivated by a belief that private enterprise could build and manage prisons safely and at lower cost than the state, the legislature has mandated construction of thousands of private prison beds. Little was done over the years to test actual performance of private prisons or to determine their cost effectiveness.
This report is the first of its kind in Arizona. To date, no independent analysis of the performance and quality of all private and public prisons has been undertaken. Such an analysis is long overdue, given that private prisons have operated in Arizona for decades, and the state has invested billions of taxpayer dollars into this industry. The people of Arizona have had little or no evidence that these prisons are safe, cost effective, or competent at fulfilling the job taxpayers pay them to do.