By: Frank Levine at PSLweb.org:
Private prison corporations sought increased profits for jailing allegedly undocumented immigrants
Arizona’s barbaric anti-immigration law SB 1070, now facing federal court challenges, was created to not only scapegoat immigrants, but also feed the boundless greed of capitalists. Private prison corporations and politicians worked hand in hand in the law’s creation as they drooled at the prospect of huge profits through the unjust detention of thousands of undocumented immigrants.
Protest against SB 1070
According to a recent National Public Radio report, reactionary Arizona legislators worked closely with at least one private prison corporation to create the onerous SB 1070 bill at an American Legislative Exchange Council conference held in Washington late last year.
The monster they created was nearly identical to SB 1070 presented to the Arizona legislature by state Sen. Russell Pearce, who attended the conference. He is a known racist with ties to extremist groups, including neo-Nazis.
Pearce received “additional guidance” from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, another notorious racist group with connections to Pearce.
ALEC, meanwhile, is a secretive members-only group that attracts legislators from around the country to be bought and sold by big business in the shadows, circumventing scrutiny and the reporting requirements of traditional lobbying activities. Members freely admit that many of the council’s 200 big business members actually write laws for “lawmakers.”
So as long as lawmakers play ball with the big boys at ALEC and allow powerful business interests to literally write their own laws, the corrupt, conservative legislators are showered with perks and favors, including extravagant meals, trips and even child care.
Meanwhile, among the powerful corporations belonging to ALEC is the multi-billion- dollar Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the country, according to the NPR report.
CCA already has six prison facilities in Arizona, three of which are run all, or in part, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and where hundreds of undocumented migrants are already imprisoned, often for months or years.
Apparently, however, the huge profits they are already making is not enough for CCA, which not only helped draft the racist bill at the ALEC conference, but reportedly had influential friends in high places help push it through, including a bevy of former CCA lobbyists and hacks on the staff of Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the bill into law on April 22.
The law gives local police the power to determine the immigration status of any individual by demanding “proper” documentation of their status. If the person is suspected of being in Arizona “illegally,” they can be arrested and jailed on state misdemeanor charges. Once their sentence is completed, they can be turned over to federal immigration authorities to face possible additional charges and expulsion from the country.
For CCA, the new anti-immigration law couldn’t have come at a better time, especially now, when the once-promising boom in private sector prisons seems to be ending.
CCA documents indicate the industry has slowed in recent years as thousands of prison beds are unused, entire facilities have been closed and states are becoming reluctant to spend big money in tough economic times.
Company executives also fear a growing trend in community supervision, expanded probation and parole alternatives, and new monitoring technologies, so the industry is now forced to seek “creative” ways to stabilize profits and stockholder dividends. Further restricting their future profits, costs are soaring, and it is now often more expensive to house a prisoner in a private prison than in a state facility, according to Arizona Department of Correction reports released in early 2010.
Their reason for private prisons to exist is now being challenged.
To protect what profit margins remain, private prisons “cherry pick” prisoners so the companies are not burdened with high medical costs, pushing that responsibility back on the state.
The solution, CCA executives freely admit, is to increase the number of ICE detainees, as immigrant detention translates into bigger profits, often two to three times greater than with regular state prisoners.
Arizona’s Department of Correction reported earlier this year that it pays companies on average between $48 and about $58 a day for state prisoners, depending on services offered. On the other hand, ICE, through the Department of Homeland Security, pays up to nearly four times more, depending on services offered, according to Lori K. Haley, Public Affairs Officer/Spokeswoman for DHS/ICE.
While DHS and ICE pay just $64.47 to the Bureau of Prisons and CCAfor immigrant prisoners at the Eloy Detention Center, in Eloy, Ariz., it pays a $94.10 daily rate to CCA at the Central Arizona Detention Center in Florence, and an astronomical rate of $197.87 at the Florence Correctional Center, in Florence, to another private prison firm, Asset Protection & Security Services, L.P.
So it’s little wonder why such an unjust and racist law was passed. Once again big business, working hand in hand with corrupt and racist politicians, has placed profits over humanity.