Mesa mayor speaking out following private prison deal approval

- Mesa's mayor, John Giles, is speaking Tuesday night about the new private prison deal with CoreCivic that was approved by the City Council Monday night.

The deal is set to save the City of Mesa a couple of million dollars. Under the deal, Mesa will move away from the 4th Avenue Jail, and send its misdemeanor offenders to a CoreCivic facility that is 50 miles away, in Florence.

Not everyone is happy with the deal.

Giles said he was intrigued by the vocal opposition to the deal, which was five years in the making.

"These are people that want to reform the jail, they would jump at the chance for there to be an alternative facility that they think is humane, and falls under constitutional standards," said Giles. "So, I'm at a loss as to tell you why they did a 180, and actually come to our City Council and argue that we have to send more people to the county jail."

Mesa City Councilmember Jeremy Whitaker said the city gave up too soon on Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone.

"It's been four months," said Whitaker. "Sometimes Giles doesn't remember that I'm not Ryan Winkle, that I'm Jeremy Whitaker. He hasn't learned my name in four months, let's give Paul Penzone more than four months to reform this massive jail system. It's not fair."

Whitaker has been vocal in his concern for the humane treatment of Mesa citizens.

"We're commoditizing human beings. We're commoditizing the citizens of Mesa," said Whitaker. "That's the part that I have the biggest issue with."

Giles, however, said the city did its homework.

"This has been thoroughly vetted, and I think what you need to remember is that this is not about prison, this is about jail," said Giles. "This is about short term, literally a few days. The average person that we are going to send to Florence will be there for a week or less."

Meanwhile, officials with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday that they had concerns over decreased revenue as a result of the vote, and they also referred to a study that said prisoners stay in jail longer, when they are in private prison.

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