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The Hidden Costs of Private Prisons

The Mineral Wells Index reported that local officials issued reimbursement requests for responding to the prison riot at the privately managed pre-parole facility in town. According to reports, the Mineral Wells Police Department and the Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Department submitted requests to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), asking for reimbursement for their officers’ overtime as well as the damage to a police patrol car.

Mineral Wells Police Chief Jerry White said they are requesting reimbursement for 42 hours and 36 minutes of overtime that were accrued between the additional dispatcher and 14 officers that were called in to assist. The request for reimbursement for personnel totaled $1,543.36.

Additional costs include replacing the rear window of a police car damaged during the riot to the tune of $260. According to reports, local officials had to respond to other riots as well and in 2005 requested $1,780.85.

It also appears that officials may not be getting reimbursed completely for the expenses incurred. For example, a request issued by Palo Pinto County Sheriff Ira Mercer did not include itemizations for his time, the chief deputy and four deputies who were on-duty at the time and responded to the riot.

Many times these extra costs are not considered when lawmakers decide to contract out incarceration to private companies like CCA. Considering all possible costs should challenge lawmakers not to transfer responsibility of incarcerating prisoners to for-profit corporations.


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