Edward Shane Kiser, 27, of Coeburn, was arrested and charged Friday by the Virginia State Police with using a computer in an attempt to gain sex from a minor.
The charge is considered a Class 5 felony and carries a possible sentence of one to 10 years in prison.
Although Kiser lives in Coeburn, the Scott County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case since the alleged victim is a resident of Scott County.
“The VSP received contact (from the girl’s parents) that there was, at that time, an officer from the town of Coeburn who had been Facebooking their daughter,” Scott County Commonwealth’s Attorney Marcus McClung said. “He had made contact with the girl through his occupation, and he then began what we believe was an inappropriate relationship through Facebook.”
Kiser was employed as a patrol officer with the Coeburn Police Department when he allegedly began sending the messages.
Coeburn Town Manager Loretta Mays confirmed that Kiser submitted his resignation from the force without reason prior to being charged and arrested Friday.
The VSP began investigating Kiser on Aug. 16 after the teenage girl’s parents reported his alleged actions to the Scott County Sheriff’s Office.
According to McClung and VSP Special Agent Jason Jenkins, Kiser first met the girl — and subsequently learned her identity and age — following a noise complaint involving juveniles at a gas station in Coeburn.
As a result of that incident, authorities said Kiser was able to find the girl’s Facebook profile and began sending her private messages on the social networking site propositioning her for sex.
“We allege that he knew how old she was,” McClung said. “When he stopped her, he had an opportunity to locate her age, and despite that he decided to carry on the inappropriate communication.”
After the girl’s parents discovered the messages and went to authorities, Jenkins was given permission to assume her identity on Facebook and begin carrying on conversations with Kiser.
That portion of the investigation lasted nearly a week before authorities decided to formally charge Kiser.
Jenkins said the cooperation of the girl’s parents was key to the investigation getting under way.
“It’s very important to have the parents involved,” Jenkins said. “Without the parents, a lot of times we wouldn’t know the extent of how bad these situations can be, because without parent involvement we might not find out.”
Following his arrest, state law enforcement executed a search warrant on Kiser’s residence and seized a computer and cell phones.
Kiser was taken before a Scott County magistrate after being taken into custody Friday and was released on his own recognizance.
McClung said anyone with additional information on this, or similar cases, should contact his office at (276) 386-2576.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. Aug 28 2012 (AP) — A Memphis police officer has been charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and vandalism after being arrested during a scuffle on Beale Street.
Memphis police said in a statement that 30-year-old Lakendus Cole, a seven-year veteran officer currently assigned to the Organized Crime Unit, has been relieved of duty with pay pending the outcome of an investigation. Also charged with disorderly conduct was 25-year-old Darnell Tennial.
Officers said the incident arose when Cole and Tennial became uncooperative as officers attempted to clear the street at 4 a.m. CDT Sunday.
Police said the two men became combative and resisted, causing a brief struggle during which a squad car was damaged.
Both men remained in the Shelby County Jail on Sunday. Jail records did not list an attorney for either.
Jonathan Busch, of Palm Beach, Fla., was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and second-degree harassment, police said.
A fight ensued outside the bar after Mr. Busch allegedly struck the bouncer at 2:29 a.m. An officer in the area observed the fight, broke it up and arrested Mr. Busch, police said. Mr. Busch was taken to headquarters and held overnight for arraignment.
Henderson LA Aug 28 2012 The two top police officers in Henderson were arrested Friday morning. Police Chief Leroy Guidry and Deputy Chief Mack Lloyd were arrested by the Inspector General’s Office.
The charges for the chief include: criminal conspiracy, filing false police records, public payroll fraud and malfeasance in office. Charges for Lloyd were not immediately available.
The Henderson mayor confirms to KATC that the charges stem form the department’s speed patrols along I-10.
As of Saturday night, both Guidry and Lloyd are still with the department, but the mayor will be meeting with the town’s attorney Monday to discuss the next course of action.
Scottsdale AZ Aug 28 2012 A man died of a self-inflicted gunshot Saturday at the Scottsdale Gun Club, according to police.
The suicide at the popular club on 14860 North Northsight Blvd. took place at 2:30 p.m., said Scottsdale Police Officer David Pubins, a spokesman.
It is the third self-inflicted shooting there since 2007, according to records. Two were intentional and fatal.
In May, a 52-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the chest at the club, which bills itself as America’s largest indoor range.He was conscious and talking while en route to a hospital, Pubins said at the time.
In October 2007, a 20-year-old Scottsdale man fatally shot himself in the head. He had written a suicide note.
Chicago IL Aug 28 2012 Like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, he sported body armor and brandished nunchucks among a small arsenal of weapons, prosecutors say.
But pony-tail wearing security guard Alan Estrada, 49, allegedly wasn’t everything he claimed to be.
Estrada — a felon with a weapons conviction in his past — was arrested in the early hours of Saturday outside the Marquis Room in the 5000 block of West Madison.
Spotted carrying a 9mm handgun, he told police he was working security for the nightclub but also worked as a Cook County Sheriff’s deputy, according to court papers.
But challenged to provide proof, he changed his story and said he was “about to be hired” by the Sheriff.
And the only Firearm Owner’s Identification card he had belonged to another man, assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Craig Engebretson said.
A search revealed that Estrada had $50 worth of crack cocaine in his pocket, according to a police report. In addition to the nunchucks, body armor and gun, Estrada was also carrying three knives, a stun gun and a set of brass knuckles, it’s alleged.
Charged with six counts of unlawful use of a weapon, possession of a fraudulent or altered FOID card, possession of a controlled substance and impersonating a police officer while carrying a deadly weapon, he was Sunday ordered held on bail of $75,000 by Judge James Brown.
Source:Chicago Sun Times
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO CA Aug 28 2012 – A man who told authorities he just wanted to make a phone call now faces assault with a deadly weapon charges.
Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Gary Strachan said the man, 32-year-old Brian Pontolillo, walked into the Rite Aid on Camino Capistrano just after noon.
Pontolillo went to a section of the store where mobile phones are sold and grabbed one. He then wandered to another section of the store, Strachan said, selected a boxcutter and used it to open the heavy plastic packaging around the phone.
“He tried to exit the store, and loss prevention was waiting for him,” Strachan said. The two loss prevention personnel told Pontolillo they were detaining him for shoplifting and began to escort him to the back of the store.
“On the way, he decided to pull the box cutter out of his pocket and take a few swings” at the store employees. Strachan said. “Once he swung and missed, one of them was able to get a hold of his arm and take the box cutter from him.”
No one was hurt during the confrontation. Pontolillo was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.
Pontolillo would later admit to deputies he took the phone.
“He said he needed it to call for a ride,” Strachan said. “When he got dropped off, he left his cell phone in the vehicle that dropped him off.”
Tulsa police were called to the Comanche Park Apartments at 3608 North Quaker Avenue about one this morning.
That was after two security guards tried to get the suspect to drop the gun he was holding.
Tulsa Police Corporal Brandon Disney tells us the suspect “pointed it at one of the guards, second guard opened fire and both guards actually fired after commands were given for him to drop the weapon which he apparently refused to do.”
31-year old Franklin Foster was was shot three times and remains hospitalized in critical condition.
Disney says Foster does not live at the complex.
“He was dropped off earlier by an individual who actually came back to pick him up, not knowing that he had been shot.”
Two security guards fired shots at Foster.
“One of the security guards apparently had a mild heart attack after the incident and was transported to (a hospital) where he was admitted.”
We’re told the security guard’s condition is unknown.
Police found Kaufman, 32, 802 Chipley St., Baker, lying beside his vehicle in the parking lot just north of the club, at 8190 Plank Road, Cpl. Tommy Stubbs said in a news release.
A security guard, who worked for a private company assigned to Club Sha La, helped other security guards remove Kaufman from the premises early Sunday morning, Stubbs said.
Kaufman, who had been banned from the club, had made verbal threats to the security guards as they walked him to his car, Stubbs said.
Stubbs did not say why Kaufman was banned from the club.
Once inside his car, Stubbs said Kaufman retrieved a gun and pointed it at one of the security guards.
The security guard fired his weapon once, striking Kaufman in the chest, Stubbs said. Kaufman died at the scene, he said.
Kaufman’s mother, Barbara Kaufman, said Sunday that she doesn’t believe her son pointed his gun first at the security guard.
“The security guard shot him four times through the windshield in his chest,” Kaufman said. “The police say it was self- defense but it’s not self-defense when you shoot somebody four times.”
Kaufman said her son did carry a gun but he had a permit to do so for his job.
An employee of Chemtrusion, Kaufman graduated from Baker High School in 1998, and received his master’s degree in mass communications from Southern University in 2004, she said.
“He’s never been in trouble,” Kaufman said. “He’s a good child. He works, he’s been to college and he takes care of his children.”
“I’m going to miss everything about him,” she added. “He lived five minutes from my house. I’m going to miss him calling me every day.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, in a ruling Wednesday, affirmed the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Plaintiff Angela Hancock appealed the judgment entered in favor of Wal-Mart Stores East LP and against her complaint of negligence following a jury trial.
Hancock was injured in a Jacksonville, Fla., store when three bags of beach toys fell from a display shelf and struck her head, shoulder and back.
In her original complaint, filed in a Florida court, Hancock alleged that Wal-Mart’s negligence proximately caused her injuries. Wal-Mart removed the complaint to the federal court based on diversity of citizenship.
In her appeal, Hancock argued that the district court erred by not instructing the jury about the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.
The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur — Latin for “the thing speaks for itself” — states that the elements of duty of care and breach can be sometimes inferred from the very nature of an accident or other outcome, even without direct evidence of how any defendant behaved.
The Eleventh Circuit, in its five-page opinion, said the district court did not err when it denied Hancock’s request for a jury instruction about res ipsa loquitur.
“The Supreme Court of Florida has held that ‘it is incumbent upon the plaintiff to present his or her case in a manner which demonstrates and satisfies each of the doctrine’s requisite elements and only after the plaintiff carries this burden of proof may a court supply the inference,’” the court wrote.
“The record establishes that Hancock failed to satisfy even the first element of the doctrine.”
In particular, the Eleventh Circuit said the plaintiff failed to establish that direct proof of negligence was wanting.
“Hancock instead introduced evidence that an employee of Wal-Mart, (assistant manager Angel) Wilhelm, stacked the bags of beach toys incorrectly,” according to the court’s non-published, per curiam opinion.
“Wilhelm testified that, approximately 30 minutes before the incident, she had reconfigured the bags and had stacked them ‘three high and two high’ on different shelves. Hancock elicited testimony from the store manager, Gentle Raines, that Wal-Mart had policies that required its employees to display merchandise in a ‘straight and stable manner’; avoid placing merchandise ‘where it could fall on a customer’; ‘not overload shelves with merchandise’; and perform a ‘bump test’ after stacking merchandise on shelves to ensure it did not ‘slide or teeter.’”
Although Wilhelm testified that she conducted a “bump test” after she reconfigured the bags, she acknowledged that she never recorded testing the bags; she investigated the incident; and she would have been disciplined had she failed to perform the test.
Hancock testified that, as soon as Brown arrived at the scene, he looked at the top shelf, asked “who stacked these baskets this high,” and removed the baskets from the shelf.
“Hancock ‘introduce[d] enough direct evidence of negligence to dispel the need for the inference’ that an instruction about res ipsa loquitur would otherwise supply,” the Eleventh Circuit concluded.
From Legal Newsline
BOISE ID Aug 28 2012 – A Boise man was arrested Saturday morning after police found him naked and standing near a broken glass door of a local business.
Officers were called around 3 a.m. to a burglary in progress on the 1500 block of South Shoshone Street.
When they arrived on scene they found 27-year-old Anthony J. Marsh wearing only his shoes, bleeding and behaving erratically. He refused to obey officers’ commands. He then attempted to jump through a broken window. Police deployed a taser to take him into custody.
Marsh was arrested and taken to the Ada County Jail. He is charged with malicious injury to property and resisting and obstructing.
The business owner told police that replacing the safety glass door would cost more than $1,000. Upon further investigation, officers found that the suspect had also broken into a nearby laundromat, causing additional damages to that business.
SEVIERVILLE TN Aug 28 2012- Police arrested a couple accused of making and using counterfeit money Sunday morning at a Sevierville flea market.
Officers responded to Paradise Flea Market at 10:45 a.m. when vendors reported a couple paying them with fake money.
Apparently, a vendor paid for a drink from another vendor at the market with a $20 bill. The second vendor noticed the money was counterfeit.
The first vendor told police they received the money from a couple that was identified and arrested at the flea market.
Melissa Hayes, 33, and Berlin Saylor, 53, both of Sevier County, are charged with criminal simulation.
Police said they recovered $220 worth of counterfeit bills. Some of it was in the flea market and some was still in the couple’s possession.
Investigators believe the couple made the money with regular copy paper and printed it on a home copier. They’re also suspected of passing a counterfeit $10 bill at a local McDonald’s earlier this year.
Bertie Correctional Institution corrections officer caught sneakingmarijuana into prison www.privateofficer.com
Windsor NC Aug 28 2012 Another state corrections officer has been found trying to sneak marijuana into the Bertie Correctional Institution. This time police say the officer hid the marijuana down his pants.
The Department of Public Safety says they found marijuana concealed in Larry Baker’s clothing as he entered the maximum security prison for work on Saturday.
Baker was charged by Windsor police with possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and possession of a controlled substance on prison property. Police say they found 9.8 ounces of pot and they believe he was going to distribute the marijuana to inmates.
The state says Baker has resigned. He had worked at Bertie since September 2011.
DPS says they found some 4 ounces of pot in the officer’s clothes, and another 5 ounces hidden in a nearby restroom.
Baker’s bond was set at $10,000 and has a first appearance on Wednesday.
Last October another corrections officer at Bertie also resigned and was charged after authorities say she was trying to sneak a pound of pot into the prison.
WEST HAVEN CT Aug 28 2012
A security worker was arrested after he tried to put handcuffs on a woman while posing as a narcotics officer, police said.
Tuy Chhinnarith, 22, of Valley Brook Road in West Haven was charged Saturday with impersonating a police officer and breach of peace, police said.
He was released on a promise to appear in Superior Court in Milford Sept. 11.
The incident happened in the area of Campbell Avenue and Atwater Street, where a man who police later identified as Chhinnarith approached two female pedestrians, according to a press release from Sgt. David Tammaro.
The man was wearing a T-shirt that had the words: “Police Narcotics” written on it, the release states. He started talking into his cell phone, asking for “black and whites to respond to his location,” Tammaro said.
He then removed a pair of handcuffs from a backpack, walked toward one of the pedestrians and tried to handcuff her, he said.
He ran away when they yelled that they are calling the police, he said. Police found him a short time later with two pairs of handcuffs and the T-shirt.
The pedestrians, who knew him, identified him as Chhinnarith, police said.
He works for a Hamden security company, they said.
Transportation Security Administration suspends 14, fires 6 employees at Logans airport www.privateofficer.com
The action was triggered by a routine audit that showed some officers weren’t paying close attention to computer monitors that display the contents of each bag as it is screened by an explosive detection machine, TSA officials said. The screeners were distracted by their cellphones and other electronic devices, according to the TSA.
Others ignored protocols to hand-inspect bags that triggered alarms. Bags containing dense objects, such as clay or cheese, can set off alarms. If an officer can’t determine what the object is on-screen, the bag is supposed to be brought into the screening room for further inspection.
No dangerous materials got through the detection system as a result of the agents’ behavior, the TSA said.
The TSA has 1,280 officers and 23 managers at Logan. All of the agents in line to be fired or suspended worked in the same baggage room — one of 10 at the airport. They have seven days to appeal the findings.
TSA officials said the proposed terminations and suspensions are unrelated to the inquiry into allegations of racial profiling by TSA behavior detection officers at Logan.
Wickliffe OH Aug 28 2012 A Cleveland man was arrested early Sunday on charges of illegally carrying a gun in Wickliffe.
At 3:12 a.m., a security guard at the Mosley Select Suites at 28500 Euclid Ave. called Wickliffe Police about a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot, said Wickliffe Police Lt. Pat Hengst.
The guard said three men with hoodies were sitting in the car in the parking lot for a long time and then got out of the vehicle and entered the building, Hengst said.
When police arrived, they found the three men in a hallway and were unable to provide a good explanation for why they were in the building, Hengst said.
John Jordan III, 25, from 13614 Glendale Ave., was found to have a loaded .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun in his pocket, Hengst said.
Jordan was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and carrying a weapon while under disability, which stems from Jordan having a prior felony conviction on his record, Hengst said.
Both charges are felonies.
While it could not be proven, Hengst said that the alert security guard may have prevented a more serious crime from occurring at the hotel.
Jordan was arraigned Monday morning in Willoughby Municipal Court.
Acting Judge Almis Stempuzis set his bond at $10,000 cash or surety, which was not posted.
A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m.
Three employees at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement accused of inappropriate sexual behavior www.privateofficer.com
The complaints are related to a sexual discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed in May by a senior ICE agent. They accuse Suzanne Barr, the agency’s chief of staff, of sexually inappropriate behavior toward employees. Barr is on leave while the allegations are being investigated, a spokesman for the agency said. Repeated attempts by The Associated Press for more than one week to reach Barr for comment by phone and email have been unsuccessful.
Barr is accused of telling a male subordinate he was “sexy” during an office party and asking a personal question about his anatomy. She is separately accused of offering to perform a sex act with a male subordinate while on business travel in Bogota, Colombia. She is also accused of calling a male subordinate from her hotel room and offering to perform a sex act. The names of two of the employees were censored in affidavits reviewed by the AP.
There were no prior complaints about Barr, according to a homeland security official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. Barr was one of Napolitano’s first appointments after she became secretary in 2009.
ICE would not say whether the agency’s director, John Morton, witnessed any inappropriate behavior by Barr in the three years he’s worked with her. Morton traveled with Barr 65 times between May 2009 and February 2012, according to documents obtained by the AP under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
Two employees came forward with their complaints after New York’s most senior ICE agent filed a sexual discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. James T. Hayes Jr., described a “frat house” atmosphere at ICE designed to humiliate male employees under Barr’s leadership. Hayes, who filed the complaint in May, is asking for more than $4 million that would cover compensation he believes he is owed for relocation expenses and financial losses associated with his transfer as well as the full salary and benefits he would have earned until he was eligible to retire.
Hayes’ lawyer, Morris Fischer of Silver Spring, Md., has declined to comment.
The Justice Department is seeking to dismiss Hayes’ lawsuit on the basis that he did not state a claim for retaliation.
There were 10 sexual harassment claims filed with ICE in 2011, a significant increase over the two cases filed in each of the previous two years, according to equal employment data from the agency. DHS said none of the cases were substantiated. Also in 2011, Morton issued an anti-fraternization policy that said supervisors were not to have sexual or romantic relationships with subordinates. Any such relationships, the policy said, should be immediately reported.
Brian Hale, an ICE spokesman, said the agency has a “zero tolerance sexual harassment policy” and that all such allegations are promptly investigated.
Despite the complaints, 24 senior ICE agents across the country sent Morton a letter of support Thursday that alluded to media reports of Hayes’ case.
Barr went on leave after the New York Post reported a story on Hayes’ complaint earlier this month. The additional employees came forward with their allegations around the same time.
Barr, a 1995 graduate of University of Arizona, began working for Napolitano in 2004 when Napolitano was governor of Arizona. Before that, Barr worked for Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl.
ICE’s office of professional responsibility and the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general are investigating the allegations against Barr, Hale said.
A responding officer was advised that the man had removed money from a tip jar as an employee made his sandwich.
Police took the man into custody and found two cut straws and half a white pill on the “severely impaired” man, who was arrested and transported to the city jail.
The police report did not release the man’s name.
Allentown PA Aug 28 2012 A 26-year-old man was arrested Sunday evening after sexually assaulting a woman at the Kmart in Allentown, police said.
Jose Israel Vazquez-Villanueva, no known address, allegedly rubbed his genitals against the woman’s buttocks as they stood in line at the 1502 S. Fourth St. store.
The woman told officers Vazquez-Villanueva was behind her in the checkout line at 6:39 p.m., police said. She asked him on three occasions to back up because she could feel his breath on her neck, police said.
Finally, Vazquez-Villanueva rubbed himself against her rear, prompting the victim to shout for help, police said. The woman later told officers she was frightened for her safety and that of her five-month-old daughter, police said.
In response to the woman’s calls for help, Kmart security escorted Vazquez-Villanueva to another room, where he subsequently met with officers, police said.
Vazquez-Villanueva smelled of alcohol and was carrying two vials of cocaine in his pants pocket, police said.
He is charged with indecent assault, possession of cocaine, public drunkenness and harassment. Vazquez-Villanueva was arraigned today before District Judge Rod Beck and sent to Lehigh County Prison in lieu of $3,500 bail.
His preliminary hearing is scheduled Sept. 4.
Source:lehigh valley news
Phoenix AZ Aug 28 2012 The state Department of Corrections plans Friday to award a private prison contract for 1,000 medium-security beds for men, citing a lack of beds for violent offenders and a projected increase in the overall inmate population.
Five out-of-state companies are vying for the contract. The value of the deal has not been disclosed while the state reviews the bids, but it likely will be worth millions of dollars annually. Sites being considered are in Coolidge, Eloy, Florence, San Luis and Winslow.
The contract comes even though the state’s overall prison population is expected to remain flat the next two years and increase only slightly thereafter. State records also show it’s more costly for taxpayers to have private businesses run prisons.
According to state records, there currently are about 2,000 empty beds in Arizona’s prison system, which houses 39,876 male and female inmates, about 9 percent of Arizona’s total population. Critics of the prison expansion point to those empty beds as a key reason why the state doesn’t need to spend more money on beds.
State Corrections Director Charles Ryan acknowledged the empty beds but said the state has a shortage of permanent medium-security beds — an 11-bed deficit as of Friday. Most of the empty beds are in minimum-security or women’s facilities, and the populations cannot be mixed.
Ryan said the shortage will get worse by 2016, when the total prison population is projected to increase by about 600 more inmates, to 40,477 prisoners. Ryan said the increased projections are based on historical growth trends from the past five fiscal years. He added that the state doesn’t foresee a significant decline in sex offenders or violent criminals, who would be housed in medium-security prisons.
“We need the medium (security) beds,” Ryan said. “This is an issue of preparing and planning for the future.”
The contract calls for up to 2,000 medium-security beds. The first 500 would come online in January 2014. The next 500 would be in place in January 2015. The Legislature has not determined when, or if, the remaining 1,000 beds would be added, but their decision would be based on increases in the medium-security population.
The state also plans to build a 500-bed maximum-security facility in Buckeye that’s scheduled to open July 1, 2015. The cost for that facility is projected at $50 million. The Legislature allocated $20 million toward the new facility this budget year, which began July 1.
Corrections records also show that in fiscal 2011 there were 296 fewer prisoners than the previous year, and this past fiscal year that ended June 30, there were 304 fewer inmates for a total of 39,877.
Ryan attributed the overall decline to fewer parole revocations, fewer illegal immigrants being placed in state custody and an overall downturn in crime, but he still contends the additional beds are needed.
He said 735 of the empty beds are in women’s facilities, where men can’t be housed. There are another 1,127 empty beds at minimum-security prisons for men, but male inmates at medium-security sites can’t be transferred there because the sites are not as secure, and there would be safety risks to other inmates, officers and the public. It would be cost-prohibitive, he said, to retrofit a minimum-security facility for more serious offenders.
“You can’t mix and match,” Ryan said. “You have to keep them separate.”
Ryan said the 15,500-plus medium-security inmates are not allowed to work outside a prison’s secured perimeter, and they typically are serving sentences that average 9.7 years. Just more than half of them have been sentenced for violent crimes, including assaults, sex offenses and robbery. The rest are serving time for drug offenses, drunken driving, forgery, theft and burglary, according to Corrections records.
Business model criticized
Records show it’s more expensive to have private companies operate prisons.
The most recent information available shows the average daily cost per inmate in a state-run medium-custody facility in 2010 was $48.42, while the average daily cost for an inmate in a similar private facility was $53.02. That translates into a 9.5 percent higher cost per inmate for a private prison.
If the new private 1,000-bed facility operates at just 90 percent capacity, the annual cost for taxpayers would be $17.4 million, based on 2010 figures. A state-run facility, under the same scenario, would cost taxpayers $15.9 million annually.
Ryan countered that Arizona saves up-front construction costs by having a private company build the facility. The coming contract also calls for the state to assume ownership of the facility in 20 years.
Rep. Cecil Ash, R-Mesa, disagrees with Ryan’s conclusions.
“Private prisons are the wrong business model,” Ash said. “They are in the business for profit. The problem is most legislators just don’t pay attention to this issue. Inmates don’t vote, and the public doesn’t see the inmates. They are out of sight, out of mind.”
Ash, who is running for a justice of the peace position and will not return to the 2013 Legislature, is one of the few Republicans who have publicly opposed adding private prison beds, saying they waste taxpayers’ money. Other outspoken opponents include the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group and watchdog organization.
“For-profit prison corporations are not accountable to Arizona taxpayers,” said Caroline Isaacs, American Friends Service Committee program director.
She also contends they are not subject to the same transparency, reporting or oversight requirements as government agencies, and she believes the for-profit prison industry is getting a contract because it has exercised its political muscle in Arizona by hiring a cadre of lobbyists and made campaign contributions to influential legislators.
At least one of the companies, Corrections Corporation of America, employs one of Gov. Jan Brewer’s key advisers as a lobbyist, and former Arizona U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini serves on the company’s board.
Arizona got into the private prison business in 1993, with a facility in Marana in southern Arizona.
Today, about 6,500 Arizona inmates or about 16 percent of the inmate population are in private prisons. The state houses roughly 33,000 inmates in 10 complexes across Arizona. The overall Corrections budget is about $1 billion.
Management & Training Corporation and the GEO Group Inc. currently have contracts at five prisons in Phoenix, Florence, Kingman and Marana. Both are bidding for the additional medium-security beds. The other bidders are Corrections Corporation of America, Emerald Correctional Management and LaSalle Corrections. All five are headquartered outside Arizona.
Following steady growth in the inmate population, the Department of Corrections in 2009 sought bids from private prison operators for an additional 5,000 beds in Arizona.
During the bidding process, three inmates escaped July 30, 2010, from Management & Training Corporation’s private prison in Kingman. Two of the escapees are accused of murdering an Oklahoma couple who were vacationing in New Mexico.
An Arizona Department of Corrections review of the Kingman facility after the escape found numerous deficiencies with training and equipment, including an alarm system that issued false alarms so frequently that staff members began to ignore them.
The state suspended the bidding process after the escape and revised a bid for 5,000 beds. That bid was canceled and a new request for up to 2,000 beds was issued after the prison population forecast changed. The Legislature most recently authorized funding for 1,000 of the 2,000 beds.
While the American Friends Service Committee and ACLU have adamantly opposed the addition of private prison beds, many residents in communities that may house the inmates have been very supportive, Ryan said.
That was the case earlier this month at a public hearing in Florence, known as Arizona’s prison capital for its state-operated and private prisons.
Florence’s mayor, town officials and the schools superintendent all voiced support for more inmate beds, after they were told by GEO Group that the company’s proposal to build a new 1,000-bed prison would create 200 construction jobs, 260 jobs at the facility and a $12 million annual payroll. The company, however, would not say how much the company pays its guards.
“We are proud of our institutions, and proud to have a much-needed service to the state,” Florence Mayor Tom Rankin said during the hearing. “It will create more jobs, and more jobs means more people will shop here.”
Rankin also took a shot at critics of the proposed prison, saying they didn’t live in his community and shouldn’t try to derail a jobs creator.
But opponents, including Isaacs, countered that any new prison was a waste of money for all Arizona taxpayers.
A GEO executive had to correct himself during the hearing for saying the company had never had an escape at one of its facilities after an opponent pointed out that an escape had occurred in 2006 at a GEO facility in Florence. Last year, when The Republic was examining the bidders for new private prisons, the newspaper found that at least 27 escapes have been reported from GEO facilities over the previous seven years, including one in Texas that led to a murder.
Pablo Paez, a GEO spokesman, said the Florence escape occurred at a low-security DUI-offender facility shortly after the company took over from a prior operator. He added the other escapes predominantly occurred at low-security facilities, such as halfway houses where offenders are placed in the months nearing their release.
During other questions from opponents, GEO officials at least twice attempted to take control of the meeting from Corrections Director Ryan by telling the critics that their allotted time to speak had ended, when it had not. Ryan allowed the critics to continue.
“It was evident that the representatives from the local community are very supportive of the proposed facility,” Paez later said. “Unfortunately, during any public hearing, outside interest groups which are not related to the local community can at times overtake a meeting and bring up issues that are not related to the community’s views on the proposed project. This can lead to spontaneous exchanges which unfortunately can take away from the central purpose of these public hearings, which should be for the local community to express its views on the proposed project.”
GEO officials did not attempt to cut short comments from supporters of its proposal.