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Mesa Considers Private Jail Project In Effort To Reduce Costs

Mesa is looking at ways to trim its public-safety costs after a voters rejected a city-sales tax hike in November.

Currently, misdemeanor offenders are held in the Mesa Holding Facility. After their arraignment, they’re transported to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to be held at an MCSO jail.

In an effort to reduce costs associated with booking and housing offenders, the Mesa Police Department asked the City Council for permission to solicit bids from private contractors.

Mesa City Councilman Kevin Thomspon sits on the public-safety committee. He says the council gave MPD the green light but the privatization isn’t final.

“I’m hopeful that they’ll also continue talks with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to see if we can negotiate a price structure there that would meet those same savings,” Thompson said.

Mesa police say contracting with prison operator Corrections Corporation of America — now Core Civic — could save more than a million dollars a year.

Core Civic runs 6 facilities in Arizona, including the Eloy detention center which has seen 15 inmate deaths since 2003.

Mesa Private Jail Project

Jimmy Jenkins was a producer and senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2014 to 2021.