Arizona Severs Ties With Prison Operator Over July Riots

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Arizona Severs Ties With Prison Operator Over July Riots.

NOW will the state quit trying to pawn off its responsibility and recognize that some things – like prisons – should not be farmed out to entrepreneurs? PHOENIX — Arizona severed ties Wednesday with a private prison operator over what the state says was a string of troubling security and training lapses that led to violent riots in July. Doug Ducey announced Wednesday he’s terminating the contract with the private-prison operator of a facility near Kingman in the wake of a July 2 riot that badly damaged the facility and injured 16 people. The Arizona Republic’s Craig Harris has reported extensively on how the problems at the facility may have been due to poor staffing and mistreatment. Ducey based his decision on an investigative report that said Management and Training Corporation, operator of the facility in Golden Valley, had “a culture of disorganization, disengagement, and disregard of Arizona Department of Corrections polices and fundamental inmate management and security principles.” MTC did not “promptly and effectively quell the riots,” allowing them to last longer than they should have and resulting in more damage to facilities.

I’ve written before about Dianne Post, who has worked for years with the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “They don’t get in a uproar because, Number 1, they don’t get enough information about it,” she said. “Number 2, if they knew all there is to know about private prisons, there are so many things to get into an uproar about that it’s hard to know which one to pick first. The state said the prison completed none of the mandated supervisor training for the 2015 fiscal year and claimed the company offers minimal training in the area of communication skills and crisis intervention for its guards.

Inmates did not direct their anger at each other but at prison staff, and focused the destruction on MTC property, suggesting “that the riots were more likely precipitated by inmate dissatisfaction with MTC’s operation of the prison than by anger among the inmates themselves.” More than a third of MTC performance problems identified five years ago, when the escape of three inmates resulted in a murderous rampage through several states, were again identified in this summer’s investigation. The new report from the American Friends Service Committee on the Kingman riot, the law enforcement response, and the aftermath, raises doubts about Arizona’s private prison operators’ ability to run facilities that are “safe, cost effective, humanely run, and accountable to the public.” State legislators there are currently considering accepting bids for private prisons to hold 2,000 more prisoners.

The report details findings of a DOC “assessment team” sent in by Ducey immediately after the riots, which forced the transfer of 1,202 inmates to other prisons and county jails while repairs were undertaken. The team also reviewed “thousands of pages of MTC documents.” Inmates interviewed by The Arizona Republic earlier this month and others with knowledge of the melee previously said the melee was a culmination of weeks of inmate mistreatment by MTC guards. The prison was the site of a 2010 escape in which three inmates broke out with the help of an accomplice who threw cutting tools onto the prison grounds. I yelled that he doesn’t speak any English and they kicked him again and shot him 4 more times and said “Do you speak English now mother- [expletive]?” Still he didn’t move so they dragged him out.

The levy imposed upon MTC for a lack of staff in Kingman accounted for 78 percent of the roughly $1.1 million in under staffing assessments charged to the three private prison operators last fiscal year. Last year’s staff vacancy penalty imposed on MTC was the second highest annual amount withheld from the company in the previous five years, records show. A young black kid not far from me was on the ground and made the mistake of asking an officer to please loosen up his cuffs his hands were numb, the officer walked over kicked him in the face and told him to “shut up [expletive] and move your [expletive] ass closer to the guy next to you.” If a few state prisoners won a few million dollars in lawsuits due to police brutality, you can believe that private prisons would do a better job of discouraging police brutality.

After the escapes and murders, it took eight months and a formal threat by Corrections Director Charles Ryan to terminate MTC’s contract before the company shored up security at Kingman to the department’s satisfaction. Corrections, despite requests from The Republic, did not disclose how many employees MTC was short in Kingman this past fiscal year or in prior years. Also, the total lack of transparency and accountability.” Former state lawmaker Chad Campbell, another person who has long sounded the alarm on this issue, told me in late 2013, “There are times when privatization or public-private partnerships are definitely the way to go. Isaacs and her organization have been vocal critics of the state’s growing reliance upon private prisons, saying they are historically understaffed in order to make a profit and are not cost-effective for Arizona taxpayers. Last month, MTC said the initial rioting was caused by a medium-security inmate who had become aggressive with a correctional officer in the prison’s Hualapai Unit, but the company provided no additional information.

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