Saturday, October 27, 2012

Prison Contract Problems; "There is always something terrifying here."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Last night, on the local news, there was coverage regarding our prison again. The Dept. of Corrections is under fire for allowing a contract with the Motor Vehicle Division. They literally have inmates answering the phones and helping outside civilians with their needs. Mind you, the person calling in, has no idea that they are speaking with an inmate. Apparently, the public is not thrilled by these findings and candidly, I wouldn’t be either. The whole thing is weird. What really gets me is that I know how many people out there need jobs and here are a couple of hundred positions that could go to people on the outside, who simply need to provide for themselves. Instead, The Motor Vehicle Division wants to save money and set up call centers inside prisons and employ convicts. The whole situation upsets me and yet I have to put that face on and act as if this is a great opportunity etc.. Eventually, something will happen and the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC)will be under fire again.
In just the last year, the ADC has had lawsuits against them for an array of inmate deaths, severe assaults, and most recently, because an RN used the same needle to inject over 100 inmates with insulin. There is always something terrifying here. Oddly, I have come to expect it but it really is terrible.  Because I am aware of the bigger picture, I have also grown capable of playing Devil’s advocate. Funding is terrible and so the ADC is not able to fully staff the prisons as they should be. They do the best that they can, but it is just not possible to meet the demand with their limited resources. The new privatized medical contract with Wexford was directly responsible for the insulin incident and now ADC is investigating it. Last, but not least, if the inmates want to do something, they will find a way to do it. It remains a continuous battle. It does make one wonder though; why is the Arizona Department of Corrections always in the news?

Personally, the only issues I see go hand in hand with the county attorney’s office and the legislative guidelines. Arizona has some of the highest sentencing guidelines in the country. They also require inmates to serve 85% of their sentence, despite the fact that the correctional facilities are overcrowded, and there is no money to build new prisons. Ironically, they have established multi-million dollar contracts to house Arizona inmates in private prisons instead. None of it makes any sense. It’s taken years for me to fully see how convoluted the DOC is.  It’s taken even longer for me to accept that no one cares to fix it.

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