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

Friday, September 4, 2009

Governor Signs prisons bill

More on Arizona Prison Watch:

 Matthew Benson - Sept. 4, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic 
Gov. Jan Brewer on Thursday signed a portion of the state budget that includes a controversial provision that calls for the state to sell selected public properties as it tries to generate some fast cash.
The state drew national attention in recent months with word that it was looking to unload dozens of properties amid a historic budget crunch. Thursday's budget measure, House Bill 2010, stipulates that the state attempt to raise as much as $735 million by selling and then leasing back facilities the state now owns.
Candidates for the financing mechanism include the House and Senate buildings at the Capitol, the State Hospital and state fairgrounds. Government functions on-site would be unaffected. 
The state has conducted sale/leaseback deals on occasion in the past. It is believed, however, that this would be the first time the state has devoted revenue from the sales to fund general government operations. That revenue is desperately needed at a time when the state faces a budget shortfall in excess of $3 billion. 
Brewer has now signed two bills out of nine in a state-budget package that lawmakers sent to the governor last month. She has until midnight Saturday to sign or veto the rest of the bills, and she is expected to act on some of the remaining measures today. 
Lawmakers of both parties grudgingly supported the sale-leaseback idea, which Sen. Thayer Verschoor called preferable to raising taxes and more politically palatable than additional program cuts.
"I think it's something we have to do," said Verschoor, a Gilbert Republican.
Under the provision, the state will attempt to sell the government properties and lease them back for periods of up to 20 years. Deals that would generate the targeted $735 million in revenue would mean state lease payments totaling $60 million to $70 million a year, according to budget analysts. 
Additionally, approval of Thursday's budget bill means the state will attempt to sell the rights to operate some of its prisons. Private, for-profit prison operators will bid for the right to manage selected facilities, but the state would maintain ownership. State officials expect to raise as much as $100 million through the prison-concessions arrangement.
State Rep. Lynne Pancrazi worries that private companies will be less able to maintain prison security to state standards and said that the deal could result in the layoff of corrections officers. "The privatization of the prisons just means that (corrections officers) no longer have a job," said Pancrazi, a Yuma Democrat. "We're just throwing them out the door. It seems heartless."
Pancrazi's district includes some of the state's largest prison facilities, but the Yuma complex is exempt from the privatization provision.
Other portions of HB 2010 free up funding for the Arizona Department of Public Safety and other criminal-justice needs. 
Without the measure, law-enforcement officials had worried that the cash-strapped state agency would run out of money by Sept. 11. Thursday's signing eases immediate fiscal pressures on DPS by allowing the agency to access $100 million from a pair of state highway funds. The bill will provide roughly half of the agency's annual funding.
Other elements of the bill will hike a series of court fees and fines, including doubling to $20 the probation surcharge levied for criminal offenses and civil traffic violations.

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