AP reports the state Corrections Board has approved, as expected, a 20-year contract with Drew and Bradley counties, which will in turn contract with a private operator — LaSalle Corrections most likely — to operate a prison for up to 500 inmates.

This deal has been a likelihood since Sen. Joyce Elliott blew the whistle on secret discussions a year ago. Former staffers and a chief political operative for Gov. Asa Hutchinson lobby for LaSalle. Private prisons are cheaply run with scant accountability and thus will save the state some money. Running the deal through the counties gives the state some cover.

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Arkansas’s last experience with private prisons, which ended in 2001, was a disaster. There are reasons for the state not to pass the responsibility for the constitutional operation of prisons off to a profit-making outfit in Louisiana.

Here’s the contract, beginning on page 26 of the PDF.