Private Prison Industry Helped Draft Arizona Immigration Bill

Mass detentions mean huge profits
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2010 1:16 PM CDT
Private Prison Industry Helped Draft Arizona Immigration Bill
Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce (R-Mesa), speaks at the border in Hereford, Ariz., in August.   (AP Photo/Matt York)

If Arizona's immigration law survives its court challenges, it could result in mass detentions of immigrants—and massive profits for the private prisons holding them. So while it's no surprise the industry supports the measure, an NPR investigation reveals that it actually helped draft the law. The report shows how state Sen. Russell Pearce brought his idea to a "secretive group" in DC known as the American Legislative Exchange Council.

ALEC is made up of state legislators and big corporations, including the nation's largest private prison company, the Corrections Corporation of America. ALEC members loved Pearce's presentation—CCA views immigrant detention as a lucrative market—and hashed out a bill Pearce could take back to Arizona. "Four months later, that model legislation became, almost word for word, Arizona's immigration law," writes NPR's Laura Sullivan. It probably didn't hurt that two of Gov. Jan Brewer's top advisers previously worked as lobbyists for private prison companies, the report notes.
(Read more Arizona immigration law stories.)

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