Three companies seek contract with state to operate prison in San Luis
SAN LUIS, Ariz. – The Louisiana firm that already houses federal prisoners here is competing against two other companies for a contract with the Arizona Department of Corrections to operate a second privately-run prison in the city.
Representatives from the three companies appeared Tuesday at a public hearing in San Luis to present their proposals to operate a privately-run prison to house state prisoners for the DOC.
San Luis is one of four cities under consideration by the state for the site of a prison, and a DOC panel is scheduled to make a recommendation at the end of this month on which location and what firm should be selected. Other cities under consideration are Winslow, Florence and Eloy.
Representatives from companies said their plans call for creating up to 200 temporary construction jobs in San Luis and then another 200 or more permanents jobs for people who would staff a prison that would house 1,000 prisoners for the state.
All three of the competing companies currently operate prisons somewhere in Arizona, but of the three only Emerald Correction Management manages one in Yuma County, the city-owned prison on Avenue D.
The city of San Luis contracts with Emerald to operate the prison, which houses prisoners under a contract between the city and the federal government.
Representatives from Emerald propose to expand the existing facility to create the additional beds for the 1,000 state prisoners. The expansion work would begin in 2015 and take place in two phases, each consisting of additions of 500 prison beds.
The GEO Group, a Florida company, proposes to build and operate a private prison in the same area of the existing state-run prison located at County 23rd Street and Avenue B extension. The firm envisions its proposal would create 200 construction jobs and then 260 permanent jobs for those hired to operate the prison.
GEO currently runs three private prisons in the areas of Florence and Phoenix.
The third proposal comes from Management and Training Corp. of Utah, which proposed to locate a prison along Juan Sanchez Boulevard east of San Luis. It envisions creating 200 temporary construction jobs and 170 permanent jobs.
Management and Training Corp. runs prisons for the state in Marana and Kingman. In 2010, three inmates escaped from the Kingman prison, two of whom were later implicated in the murder of a couple in New Mexico.
Concerns over that case, in part, prompted a Kansas resident, Frank Smith, to speak out against privately- run prisons at Tuesday's hearing, which was held by the DOC. Smith has spoken against prison privatization around the country.
He said private prisons sacrifice adequate security measures in favor of profit, and that the jobs they offer are not typically high-paying.
San Luis officials, however, said the existing state prison and the detention facility operated by Emerald have proved to be good neighbors of the city. The San Luis City Council recently passed a resolution in support of DOC locating a privately-run prison in the city.