The size of the request got the attention of members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who had a series of questions Tuesday for Charles Ryan, the state's prison chief.
Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, wanted to know why the prison population, after leveling off for several years, has taken a sudden jump.
specifically asked about the state's 1994 "Truth in Sentencing'' Law that requires inmates to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before being released.
That distinction did not go unnoticed by Ryan
said it's not his
role to decide those priorities.
"Our responsibility is certainly that of public safety,'' he
"I'm empathetic to education and the other priorities you have to consider,'' Ryan
assured Ward that he
runs an efficient system, pegging his
per-inmate costs among the lower third of all state prison systems.
, however, said that's not a realistic long-term solution.
said private prisons run Arizona anywhere from $47 to $67 a day per inmate; Ryan
said Maricopa County wants more than $79 a day.