INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana is sending inmates back to Arizona after two disturbances in nine months involving prisoners from that state at an Indiana prison.
The Indiana Department of Correction’s prisoner-housing contract with Arizona has ended and inmates housed at the New Castle Correctional Facility soon will be returned to the western state, DOC spokesman Doug Garrison said Friday.
George Zoley, chairman and chief executive of the private company that operates the prison, Boca Raton, Fla.-based Geo Group Inc., first revealed the impending departure of the Arizona prisoners in a teleconference with stock analysts on Feb. 13. A transcript of the conversation was posted online this week.
“It’s no surprise the Arizona inmates are going back to Arizona. We’ve said that all along,” Garrison said.
Zoley had told analysts in February he expected the transfer of about 630 Arizona inmates to begin in early April, but Garrison declined to discuss the timing of the transfers for security reasons.
Trina Randall, a spokeswoman for the 2,200-inmate, medium-security New Castle prison, declined to discuss details of the transfers on Friday. She told The Star Press of Muncie for a story Friday that the transfers had not yet begun.
The transfers will end an initiative that has been troubled almost since the time the deal was announced in March 2007. The contract called for Indiana to house as many as 1,260 inmates with Arizona paying $64 a day per inmate.
The following April 24, about 500 prisoners from Arizona and Indiana burned mattresses and broke windows during a two-hour disturbance. A total of 28 inmates, all but one from Arizona, were charged with crimes including criminal confinement and battery. Eight prisoners and two staff members suffered minor injuries.
In January, four to six prisoners, including some from Arizona, fought with the guards during an outdoor exercise period.
Late last year Indiana prison officials were telling Arizona they were running out of room for the out-of-state inmates.
“Capacity is always an issue for the Department of Correction,” Garrison said. “The contract ended by mutual agreement of the parties.”
Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Nolberto Machiche confirmed about 630 inmates from that state were to be transferred, and that his agency was working to make room for them in its prisons.