Some of you had to write a check to Uncle Sam on this Tax Day. You may think your money is going toward education and public safety. But some say too much is going to private prisons, and one in particular that runs six facilities in our state.
"That profit motive is really at odds with the mission of a correctional institution," said Alessandra Soler with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.
In their new "Who is CCA" campaign, the ACLU is asking the governor of Tennessee - where the Corrections Corporation of America is based - to send them packing.
"Ask the governor to end the contracts with CCA in its home state as a way to really send a message," Soler said.
According to the ACLU, CCA made $1.7 billion in taxpayer funded profits in 2012. They want to know, how do we know whether they're earning that paycheck?
"Who's holding these private prisons accountable?" Soler asked. "Where are those taxpayer dollars going? Are these prisoners rehabilitated? Are we safer?"
"The ACLU needs to go back to where they come from, more than likely Russia or something like that," said Florence Mayor Tom Rankin. He said those private prisons contribute to their quality of life.
CCA operates six facilities in Arizona, including two in Florence.
"There's a lot of people that come into town to work. They stop at the stores on their way home or before they go to work," Rankin said. "They've been a good neighbor."
In 2010, the Arizona Department of Corrections found it would be cheaper to house inmates in state prisons rather than private ones, but some call this report flawed because it didn't take employee benefits or constructions costs into account.
The CCA sent us a statement saying,
The ACLU's logic is deeply flawed. According to economists from Temple University, companies like ours generate a 17 percent savings in corrections costs for Tennessee taxpayers without sacrificing the quality of services delivered. Those are funds that can be used for additional rehabilitation programming and other public safety priorities. With this misguided effort, the ACLU is advocating for higher taxpayer costs and reduced flexibility for state leaders to manage their inmate populations in a safe, secure and humane way.
The fact is that our company's 16,000 dedicated professionals, including more than 2,100 in Arizona – from correctional officers to chaplains and teachers – work around the clock to provide safe, secure housing and quality rehabilitation and re-entry programs for the inmates entrusted to our care, while delivering significant cost savings for our government partners and taxpayers.
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