Arizona extends time to weigh private prison bids

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PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona is taking more time to evaluate proposals submitted by four private prison operators for new or expanded facilities to provide the state with an additional 5,000 private prison beds.

The Department of Corrections says the four companies have agreed to the department's request to extend the evaluation period to Dec. 22.

It's the second 30-day extension.

The department's letter to the companies didn't specify the reason for the latest extension.

A 2009 law directed the department to add 5,000 private prison beds.

The state already uses both privately and publicly operated prisons, but their design capacities are short of the current inmate population.

The state now houses inmates in day rooms and also by putting two inmates in cells designed for one.