Private prison problems; people voice conerns at hearing

A Kingman prison remains damaged after more than three months after days of rioting. Some of the units were damaged, and the prisoners had to be moved to other facilities.

The privately-run prison has been under investigation ever since.

The company that was running the prison was removed and now is in the process of accepting bids for a new administrator of the prison. But many people say the problems at the Kingman prison and other privately run prisons run deeper than just changing the management staff.

Elected officials and community leaders came together to talk about the impact and purpose of private prisons here in Arizona. Many of these people along with others who attended the public hearing say private prisons are known to have many flaws across the country and here in Arizona.

"It's been over a month, and he hasn't had proper medical care," said Linda Ramirez.

Linda Ramirez came to the public hearing to voice her concerns about private prisons here in Arizona.

"I don't think that they are accountable the private prisons really aren't that accountable, and they're allowed to be heavy handed as far as their treatment towards the prisoners," said Ramirez.

Her son who was serving time at the Kingman prison was badly injured in the July riots.

"His hands were zip-tied behind him, very tight, he was left for 14 hours and beaten," she said.

After finding several violations at the Kingman prison, Governor Doug Ducey cancelled the contract for the facility. Others attending the meeting say this was a great first step, but more has to be done.

Penny Pestle is with the American Friends Service Committee, which works to reduce the prison population, says private prisons hit tax payers hard.

"I think the important thing to looks at is the overall cost. Private prison contracts are typically ten year contracts that are renewable for another ten years and they require 90 percent occupancy, which means if they only have 72 percent of their beds filled the state must pay them for the 90 percent," said Penny Pestle.

She also says private prisons are for profit, they don't have any incentive to rehabilitate and release prisoners, and that isn't the proper way to incarcerate people.

"What happens is that they don't necessarily hire the most skilled individuals to be prison guards, they don't necessarily train them to the level that happens in state institutions, the programming is not as rich," she said.

Pestle says they will provide the information from the meeting to the Senate, House, and Governor as testimony about the issues. She says one benefit to come out of the riots in Kingman was the fact that Governor Ducey said they will now be keeping a closer eye on the six private prisons in the state, making sure there aren't similar violations.