Earlier this month, the Delaware County Prison Board finally released the long-promised report from Phoenix Management Services. The report comparing publicly vs. privately-run correctional facilities was originally commissioned nearly a year ago back in May 2018 at a cost of $100,000. However, the final 27-page report cost the county $120,840 and was delayed until after the Prison Board signed a new contract with GEO Group to manage George W. Hill Correctional Facility.
Leaders blamed the delay on the difficulty of getting data and statistics from other county facilities in the state. Prison Board Chairman John Hosier explained that “comprehensive information was hard to come by and when statistics and data were received, they bedeviled analysts due to inconsistencies and gaps.” According to reporter Kathleen Carey in the Delco Times, “Part of the report’s findings was that the current public/private model provides the county with an estimated annual cost savings of $1.5 million and that a transition to a public model would require a separate one-time cost of at least $1 million.”
As usual, transparency remains an issue with GEO Group. They limited Phoenix Management’s access to historical data, calling it “proprietary.” According to the report:
“Despite numerous requests, discussions, and meetings, GEO ultimately decided that it would not comply with Phoenix’s requests for information… This has caused unnecessary delays and cost as we have spent additional time evaluating the performance of the Facility relative to its peers in Pennsylvania, while also looking for alternative ways to estimate the costs should the County reassume operational control.”
The annual cost to Delaware County for management of George W. Hill has risen from $48.1 million in 2013 to $50.4 million in 2017, with a cost per inmate of $76.53 per day. Meanwhile, Montgomery County, PA, spends only $53.31 per inmate per day to run a comparably-sized facility with an average daily population of 1,992 prisoners and 421 staff members.