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The second of three meetings between the city and the federal government involving the use of private prison companies under the federal T.A.R.P program is already taking shape, city officials said.
City officials said in a statement that they will begin preparing for a third meeting with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson this Wednesday. They said they plan to offer assurances of compliance and assurances of their commitment to keeping residents safe.
City Manager Maurice Jones and Mayor Brian Bowman had hoped to have the discussion earlier in the week, but were pushed back by the federal government — a process that has often included multiple, lengthy presentations. Jones had previously said he did not see the meeting as a formal negotiation.
The city is not directly on contract with the federal government. It contracts with a private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, through a contract with the state of Arizona.
The T.A.R.P program has become increasingly popular with both local governments and the federal government as a way to reduce overcrowding in local prisons. Most local governments are on the hook for a portion of the cost, but the U.S. Justice Department’s federal contract with the state of Arizona allows T.A.R.P. participants to retain control of the prisons.
A growing number of states have decided that they will no longer participate in that program, but the federal share has remained constant, increasing significantly between 2003 and 2015.
The latest figures show that the city of Phoenix, Arizona is spending approximately $9.2 million a year on private prisons.
Officials at the Department of Corrections issued an apology to Phoenix residents last month — and an even more disturbing statement.
“We take responsibility for the safety and security of state and federal prisoners and are committed to a number of steps, including developing best practices, educating our prisoners, reviewing all federal and state prison rules and regulations to ensure compliance and building more security into our institutions, all in accordance with state and federal statutes and constitutional protections,” read a letter by Deputy Commissioner Robert Martin.
He added that more funds for Corrections would be provided by a private company, and that the U.S. Department of Justice is “very interested in your suggestions as a company how we can improve security at prison facilities.”
Bowman, who said he received the
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