Lawmaker revisits prison privatization

Posted: Thursday, February 11, 2010

JUNEAU - A corrections official said the state might save $6.5 million a year letting a private company run the Goose Creek Correctional Center in Wasilla.

But Deputy Corrections Commissioner Dwayne Peeples told a House Finance subcommittee Tuesday that his estimate was rough, with any true savings to be borne out through a formal contract bid process. And the subcommittee took no formal action on the privatization concept. At least one member, Democratic Rep. Scott Kawasaki, said he was opposed to the idea.

The state currently runs its own correctional facilities. But subcommittee Chairman Rep. Mike Kelly says privatization is at least worth a look, since Alaska's overflow inmates are housed in private facilities outside the state at significantly lower cost.

The $240 million, 1,536-bed prison in Wasilla was financed by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough to be leased to the state. It's expected to open in 2012 and will be the state's largest correctional facility.

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