HELENA - The Montana House Budget Committee today added an amendment to Section D of the FY25 budget to expand the State's contract with CoreCivic, the private prison company previously named Corrections Corporation of America. This amendment would send up to 120 imprisoned Montanans to CoreCivic facilities in Arizona and cost Montana taxpayers nearly $4 million.
"The decision to offer this amendment at the eleventh hour of the budgeting process, after the public has had a chance to weigh in, is reprehensible," said Maggie Bornstein, Legislative Session Lobbyist with the ACLU of Montana. "This amendment, offered by Representative Fitzpatrick (R-77), is a policy decision being hidden within the budgeting process. Montanans have a right to have their voices heard on an expansion of a contract that would have dire impacts on Montana families.
CoreCivic has a history of underhanded contracts and agreements with Montana. Since the 2017 contract renewal, national CoreCivic facilities have experienced numerous deaths of incarcerated people, employees have been sentenced to prison for accepting bribes to allow smuggled material, and the company is facing many lawsuits for wrongful treatment of incarcerated people.
"Shipping Montanans to Arizona is harmful to them, their families and loved ones, and their communities," said Keegan Medrano, Director of Policy at the ACLU of Montana. "One in three families with an incarcerated loved one goes into debt trying to maintain contact, while enriching predatory correctional telecom corporations; with women bearing 87 percent of the burden of the costs of calls and visits.
"Montana must end, not expand, the contract with a private prison company with a history and reputation for violating the dignity and rights of prisoners and employees. Individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States apply to all residents of this state and country, including those who are incarcerated. Prisons, jails, and carceral centers are violent, cruel, inhuman, and degrading places that must be abolished."