Arizona DOC to Purchase Kingman Facility

GOLDEN VALLEY, Ariz. — Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) officials received approval from a legislative committee in June to purchase the Arizona State Prison-Kingman, located in Golden Valley, from GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., for upwards of $137 million. GEO Group has a contract to operate the facility through 2023.

The Havasu Sun News reported last month that the purchase and refinancing of the prison would save the state an estimated $8 million annually (and more than $77 million over the mortgage’s remaining nine years) by reducing the current 8.2 percent interest rate to just 2.1 percent. Refinancing the building debt would also funnel an estimated $2 million to GEO Group, which would be required to use the money to increase correctional officer pay and retention. Prior to the purchase, the DOC paid GEO Group roughly $60 per-diem for each inmate. Following the purchase, that number is estimated to drop to approximately $40 per-diem for each inmate.

Arizona State Prison-Kingman, one of six private facilities across the state, houses both minimum- and medium-custody inmates. The 3,508-inmate facility opened in August 2004. The GEO Group assumed responsibility for the 1,400-bed Hualapai Unit in December 2015 following a three-day inmate riot in July 2015 that injured both inmates and correctional officers, heavily damaged plumbing and electrical systems, and left many housing and restroom areas unusable.

Gov. Doug Ducey called for an investigation into the riots, which were eventually quelled by a special tactical support unit. The incident was blamed on managerial and security deficiencies and resulted in the DOC ending its relationship with then-operator MTC of Centerville, Utah. While MTC contested the findings, the company did ultimately pay for repairs.

For their part, inmates claimed their actions stemmed from poor treatment by prison staff and poor facility conditions. More than 1,000 medium-security inmates were temporarily transferred to off-site facilities following the incident. The facility officially reopened in January 2016.

Speaking with The Arizona Republic earlier this month, Warden Jeff Wrigley said that he and other GEO Group officials increased staffing levels and staff interaction with inmates, are accommodating reasonable inmate requests and are holding town hall-style meetings in which inmates can voice their concerns. Prison officials have also improved classification, added three additional DOC monitors, created new inmate jobs and enhanced security infrastructure.