Private Prison Hearings Start Tomorrow in Tucson

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The American Friends Service Committee, Private Corrections Working Group, UA Latino Law Students Association, and St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church have organized a series of private prison hearings across the state that kick off tomorrow in Tucson at Pima Community College, Downtown Campus at 1255 N. Stone Ave., in the Amethyst Room from 6 to 8 p.m., moderated by yours truly, Mari Herreras.

The public is invited to present testimony, but the AFSC has also invited representatives from the Arizona Department of Corrections, Corrections Corporation of America (expected to build a new prison in Tucson) and Management and Training Corporation (which manages the Marana Community Correctional Treatment Facility). Word is no one has responded from those organizations, but AFSC organizers know the following presenters will be there to provide critical information on the private prison industry: Stephen Nathan, editor of Prison Privatization Report International; Joe Glen, spokesman for Maricopa and Pima Juvenile Corrections Associations; Brent White, UA law professor; Jim Sanders, real estate appraiser; Susan Maurer, retired corrections commissioner from New Jersey; and Victoria Lopez, from ACLU of Arizona.

The hearing will include the following community leaders who will hear testimony and ask questions: Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias; Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik; Assistant Tucson City Manager Richard Miranda; Representative Phil Lopes; and Mark Kimble, former associate editor of the Tucson Citizen.

If you plan to attend and present testimony be sure to bring a copy of your remarks to enter into the record. The hearings will be video recorded to present to the state Legislature and the governor.

From an AFSC press release:

The shocking escapes from the privately-operated Kingman prison and the resulting murder of an elderly couple in New Mexico have raised significant questions about the role of prison privatization in Arizona. The prison’s security system malfunctioned for so long that staff simply ignored the alarms. Facility staff were inexperienced and poorly trained, and did not notice the missing prisoners until long after they had left the property. In the wake of the escapes, elected officials called for legislative hearings to be held to look in to the problems that led to the security breaches and to examine the role of for-profit incarceration in our state. Yet no hearings are scheduled and critical questions remain unanswered.

In the interest of government accountability, integrity of our corrections system, and public safety, the American Friends Service Committee and its partners are initiating a series of public hearings on prison privatization to be held around the state this fall.

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