Prison contract is ready; Colorado City said 'better'

Gov.

Janet Napolitano answered questions about a private prison, Colorado City and illegal immigration during an interview at the Miner on Thursday.

The first-term governor said a contract for management of a private prison 17 miles southwest of Kingman is sitting on Attorney General Terry Goddard's desk waiting to be signed.

Goddard and Director of Corrections Dora Schriro need to sign the contract in order for it to go into effect.

In late February, Department of Corrections representative Cam Hunter said she expected Schriro to sign the contract sometime this month.

Napolitano also said she expects the contract to be signed this month.

After a number of delays, state officials expect the prison to open in July.

Progress is being made against abuse in the polygamous community of Colorado City, Napolitano said.

"Incrementally, day by day, we're making it better there; better than it was a year ago, better than it was two years ago."

The Democratic governor said she did not foresee an effort like what happened more than 50 years ago, when the state conducted a raid on the community of Short Creek and arrested a number of men from the Arizona Strip community.

"A raid where you risk bloodshed is not the most logical thing," she said.

Napolitano noted plans to build a government services building on property in Colorado City owned by Mohave Community College.

"We moved several people there," she said, adding that the state will be using Victim of Crime Act funds to put a social worker there in the near future.

"The goal is to provide good and immediate services to those who want to leave," she added, calling it a "complicated situation."

On the issue of addressing illegal immigration, Napolitano declined to say whether she would support a bill that would prevent the use of another state's driver license as identification if that state does not require proof of U.S.

residency before issuing the license.

Separate bills to this effect have passed the House and Senate and need to be reconciled and voted on again by both legislative bodies before a bill can be sent to the governor for her signature.

Napolitano said it is her policy not to comment on bills until they reach her desk.

The state identification bill is one of several bills dealing with illegal immigration that have been introduced in the current Legislature.

The limited deployment of National Guard troops to the Mexican border that was begun in the latter part of Gov.

Jane Hull's term has been continued, Napolitano said.

Napolitano said Guard troops are training and providing ancillary services to the Border Patrol but that their presence has declined because of deployment to the Middle East.

She did not have an estimate of the number of guard troops actively training near the border.

On redrawn legislative districts for the November election, an issue created by a Maricopa County Superior Court decision, the governor predicted that the matter ultimately will be resolved in federal court, using the newly drawn maps.