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Mesa Police Department Hired 6 Additional Employees To Facilitate Private Jail Contract

In a presentation to the Mesa City Council on Monday evening, Mesa Budget Director Candace Cannistraro said the Mesa Police Department added six new positions in the 2017-18 fiscal year to facilitate its private jail contract with Core Civic.

“With the contract for the jail services, there was an increased workload in our holding facility that we found during the year,” Cannistraro said. “There were needs there and so we re-allocated some of the savings from the jail costs over into the detention area.”

Reporting from KJZZ has shown Mesa is spending less on jail services since it switched to the private contract for misdemeanor offenders.

Mesa officials have said from the start of the process that the work release population would be a challenge. In response, the department made modifications to its holding facility for some work release inmates to be able to spend the night there.

The budget request submitted to the council Monday shows that the Police Department has hired five full-time detention officers and one full-time administrative support assistant to “support the holding facility and to provide safe and effective process for intake, housing, and transport of arrestees.”

The budget request continues: “Jail costs are projected to be lower than budgeted. With the contract change, work release processing has increased the workload in the City’s holding facility. A portion of the jail cost savings were reallocated to increase the staff levels.”

Mesa Mayor John Giles stressed the need for transparency on the issue.

“If some of our costs have increased as a result of this then I think we need to be very forthcoming about that,” Giles said. “I suspect we’re still going to see a net savings, and it would still be a justifiable amount, but we need to be very transparent and make sure we reflect all the increased costs as well.”

Cannistraro said the Police Department would report back to the council with a more detailed budget request.

KJZZ has reached out to the Police Department for more details on the new positions.

Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.