Prison escape becomes campaign issue in Arizona

The escape of three convicts from a prison in Arizona last week has become an issue in the state’s campaign for governor.

Attorney General Terry Goddard, a Democratic candidate, is accusing incumbent Republican Gov. Jan Brewer of increasing the risk of jailbreaks by favoring for-profit prisons over state-run prisons.

“The Brewer administration has consistently promoted private over public prisons, in spite of the public safety risk,” he said. “The escape of these two violent offenders makes it clear how dangerous this policy has been.”

Goddard is calling for a moratorium on putting violent criminals in for-profit facilities. “They’re going to cut costs wherever they can,” he told CNN Tuesday, “putting public safety at risk…”

The three inmates — all convicted of murder, second-degree murder or attempted second-degree murder — escaped July 30 from a for-profit prison in Kingman, Arizona. The prison is run by Management and Training Corp. of Utah. The facility was built to house minimum-security prisoners, but it was later modified to house medium-security inmates as well. Its current population includes 117 murderers classified as medium-security inmates…

State officials say the inmates escaped through a door at which the alarm failed to sound, then cut a hole in the fence with wire-cutters that had been thrown over the fence by an accomplice. They escaped undetected…

One of the three escapees, John McCluskey, remains at large.

McCluskey is implicated in the murder of a retiree couple from Oklahoma in Santa Rosa, NM – while they were on vacation trailering to Colorado.

As much as Arizona’s Republican governor tries to downplay the role of privatizing prisons in decreased safety and security, we went through the same experience in New Mexico. We had a beancounter Republican governor who sold off every prison he could to private for-profit corporations like the crew in AZ – with the same results.

We ran a monthly pool on escapes.

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