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Private Prisons Cheaper?

The New Mexico state DOC contends that Corrections Corporation of America has overcharged the state by nearly $2 million since the CCA-operated Women's Correctional Facility at Grants N.M. opened some eight years ago. State officials also say that CCA is not living up to a deal struck in the 1997 legislative session to lower costs at the Grants prison.

CCA bills the state $95 a day for most of the women it imprisons at the Grants facility, about double what the state pays to house overflow New Mexico male prisoners in Texas rent-a-jails.

"Frankly, it's absurd," NM DOC chief Rob Perry said of the CCA rate.

But CCA denies there have been any overcharges in the past, and corporate PR flack Susan Hart said the company "did not agree to any sort of price decrease" for the 1997 fiscal year.

CCA claims the higher rate it charges at the Grants prison is due to extra services needed by female prisoners and a high debt service on the prison. CCA says that $22 per prisoner per day is assessed to service the debt.

"We are continuing discussions with both the corrections department and the legislative finance committee and we think we will be able to work it out," Hart said.

Associated Press

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