Arizona’s own Hydra in private prisons
Most of us know of the Greek mythology monster, L. Hydra, who had many heads and when one head was cut off, another would grow back in its place. This is much like the recent cancelation of the MTC Kingman prison contract that has attracted 5 private prison contractors to come to Arizona. The Hydra, is said to have eight mortal heads and one immortal head thus it is a perfect analogy and metaphor to describe the governor’s plan to put out the bid for the rest of the Kingman contract to other profiteers chomping at the bit to enter Arizona’s prison bidding war.
A wise, retired warden once said, “The contract bidding and wording will be interesting. Whoever gets the contract will stand to gain big $$$$. The State has backed themselves into a corner by their failure to monitor this place, now politically they have to succeed at taxpayers’ expense, $$$$. The mismanagement will be something that will resurface in time, lack of work force and resources to provide proper staff/inmate ratio will be on going. [This Hydra concept of] answering to two [or more] masters leads to failure and mistrust by staff.”
There may be physical differences in this Hydra symbolism but the subtleties and actions are the same. Without much doubt in my mind, the Hydra, also the metaphor for the Arizona Department of Corrections, will be slain by those who know its vulnerability the best and that is the prison population who recognize this monster for what it is – a failed prison management style that will eventually cost the state millions of dollars in default and unexpected expenses.
This mortal head cannot be harmed by any mere weapon but in the case of the Hydra, the harm of near fatal wounds will be self-inflicted due to poor planning and contract oversight. One has to remember that there are siblings to the main Hydra and those can do just as much harm as the monster herself who spawned these evil siblings around her. The Hydra was raised to kill Hercules and history tells the story how Hercules survived this battle and how the Greek mythology tell of this great slayer of the monster.
Just like in reality, the Hydra guards the entrance to the prison world, the underground, the filthiest and most vile place in the state. Not necessarily referring to its inhabitants but rather the culture, the environment and the volatile ambience of these places. The prisons are filled with terror and the main terrorists are the elite group of administrative fools, wielding their power and authority freely and arbitrarily, against the prisoners. That’s how the culture sees it to be in an “us versus them” battle of principles. Perception inside a prison is a reality. You cannot change the truth.
No matter what you do, the Hydra would survive and fight another day. It is invincible and the only weakness known is the multiple mortal heads that are subject to being cut off or fail during battle or struggles. No one was ever able to reach the immortal head except Hercules and even he could not cut it off but rather, buried it under a boulder.
That is the weakness of the Hydra – too many heads to protect and the inability to do so as the prison system is divided by too many heads and too much conflict in culture, politics, mission statements and objectives that by itself creates conflict from within. It too will soon be buried under a political boulder of cynical and undue expenses.