I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another Town Turns PRISON PRIVATEERS Down!

County wary of private prison

By Shar Porier


Published: Wednesday, July 22, 2009

BISBEE — “I think my constituents would come unglued.” That’s what Cochise County District 2 Supervisor Ann English said of the prospect of a second prison at Bisbee-Douglas International Airport. She made the comment during county supervisors’ work session on the matter Tuesday afternoon.

When the Arizona Department of Commerce sent out an appeal for a proposal to entice a privately operated 3,000-bed prison, the first location suggested by county staff was the county property at the airport.

L.H. Hamilton, county facilities director, explained that the Department of Commerce had sent requests for proposals to all counties in the state because an unknown company wants to build a prison in Arizona. The mystery company runs 70 prisons, halfway houses and other institutions across the U.S.

Since the county owns 410 acres at the airport that have been zoned “planned development,” Hamilton thought that was an appropriate place for it. The county could provide the 200-plus acres desired by the company at the location and a well. Douglas would be able to provide sewer service, since it has a 1,000-gallon-per-day line going to the existing 2,700-bed state-owned prison at the airport that would accommodate the additional load.

The property would have to be leased, which Hamilton said would bring $23,000 a year to the county.

But dangling a carrot in front of English, claiming the facility in her district would create 300 to 500 jobs, did no good. To her, it was a no-brainer.

She explained, “When the prison was built, it was set up as an economic benefit, and they told us new homes would go up to house the influx of employees. There have only been 10 homes built out there. In 25 years since the prison was built, there is no growth. Instead, it just shut down the whole area. And there is no additional work force available in Douglas unless they pay more than the state.”

Another taker?

Supervisor Richard Searle told Hamilton that Willcox in his district was interested in the prospect, but he didn’t think there was enough time to get in a proposal by the deadline, which is the close of business Friday. Nor is there enough land at the Willcox airport.

It wasn’t the first offer the county has received to participate in a proposal for a prison. Supervisor Pat Call said there was interest shown recently near the county landfill.

“They may be interested, but when you get to the stage of dropping the cloak of secrecy, then they’re looking for free land and anything they can get,” Call said.

For some time, the county has been looking to develop the airport area, but many companies want a pre-existing building of warehouse size to move in and start up operations. The county just doesn’t have that kind of money, Hamilton said.

English suggested looking into federal economic stimulus money to set up the infrastructure needed to attract economic development projects, particularly those with low water use.

Searle said he was “neutral” on the matter, while Call agreed with English — no need to pursue it.

Herald/Review reporter Shar Porier can be reached at 515-4692 or by e-mail at

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