Arizona Media Rolls Over for Sen. Russell Pearceby cell-out-arizona on Nov. 02, 2010, under Arizona, Corrections Corporation of America, Immigration, Lobbyists, Privatization, SB 1070
So, NPR airs a 2-part series exposing the ties between SB1070, Corrections Coproration of America, ALEC, and Arizona politicos, and how do Arizona’s two daily newspapers respond? By handing the microphone to Senator Russell Pearce. On the eve of the election, we learn that our state government is in bed with a private industry that is essentially writing our laws so that they can profit from locking people up, and our press runs to the guy with the most blood on his hands for comment. Is Gannett a member of ALEC too?
Both the Arizona Republic and the Arizona Daily Star published articles that allowed Pearce to deny the NPR report, not with facts and evidence but with his own statements: GOP’s Pearce denies report on orgin of SB1070 and Sen. Russell Pearce: SB1070 story ‘a lie’. Now, of course, the guy should have a chance to give his side. But that was the extent of the coverage.
Granted, the NPR report was somewhat unclear as to ALEC’s role vis a vis SB1070. ALEC didn’t write the bill– Sen. Pearce clearly holds that distinction. SB1070 was a mash-up of various immigrant-bashing legislation he had unsuccessfully tried to pass for several years prior. We like to think of it as ‘Russell Pearce’s letter to Santa Claus’: In one bill, he got everything he wanted.
What ALEC did–what ALEC does–is turn that horrible bill into “model legislation” that it exports to other states. So, no, we don’t have ALEC to thank for SB1070 in Arizona, but watch out America–it’s coming soon to a legislature near you, via your legislators who are ALEC members.
So here’s the story that Arizona media should be covering: What ”model legislation” has been imported to Arizona by our Legislators who are ALEC members and what role did the for-profit prison industry play?
Here’s a hint. The Institute for Money in State Politics reported in 2006 that:
Lobbyists registered as representatives of the private-prison industry gave 84 percent of the money Arizona candidates received from private-prison sources. Twenty lobbyists from 10 firms represented, among other clients, five private-prison firms and one food service subcontractor, Aramark Corp. Their contributions totaled almost $65,500. The top-contributing lobbyist was John P. Kaites with Public Policy Partners. According to the Arizona Secretary of State, the GEO Group, Inc. is among the organizations and businesses for which Public Policy Partners lobbies. A former Arizona legislator, Kaites is currently an attorney with Ridenour Hienton. He received the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Outstanding Legislator of the Year Award in 1998. ALEC backed many of the tougher Arizona sentencing policies that helped increase state prison populations in the past decade and made model legislation available to legislators. (Policy Lockdown: Prison Interests Court Political Players, Institute for Money in State Politics, April 2006. http://www.followthemoney.org/press/ReportView.phtml?r=255)
That’s right. ALEC wrote the tough-on-crime bills that sent prison populations through the roof and created a prison overcrowding crisis that our Legislators have turned to the private prison industry to solve. Cha-ching!
One more thing: The Republic article gave Pearce the last word on SB1070:
“But Pearce said most of those detained would likely be detained in city or county jails, not private prisons.”
According to Immigration Attorney Rachel Wilson, this statement is a lie. When local law enforcement pulls someone over or arrests them and asks them about their immigration status under SB1070, if the person is undocumented, law enforcement is required to call ICE or the Border Patrol. If the person hasn’t broken any state laws, they will go immediately into ICE custody to begin deportation proceedings. If they have broken a state law, they may go to a County Jail, but they will more often than not later be transferred into ICE custody to be deported. Either way, it’s dollar signs for CCA.
Arizona media should be helping to expose the corruption of our politicians, not acting as their platform for self defense or legitimizing the misinformation they propagate.