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How Private Prison Corporations Hope Arizona's SB1070 Will Lead to Internment Camps for Illegals

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Reverend Billy Talent and the Church of Life After Shopping protest the Correction Centers of America building, a commercial immigrant detention center (privately-owned prison) by Reverend Billy and the Church of Life After Shopping

Reports reveal that private prison corporations with interests and operations in Arizona stand to benefit and profit greatly as a result of immigration laws like SB1070. And, that isn't altogether surprising because these same reports are indicating these corporations played a role in influencing the law, which is proof that border politics and the private prison businesses are tied.

Progressive news magazine, In These Times, reported on State Sen. Russell Pearce's (R-Mesa) involvement in the passage of the Arizona immigration law and his ties to private prison corporations. The report explains how Pearce submitted a version of the legislation to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)," an organization which he and 35 other Arizona legislators belong," a "full month and a half before SB1070 was introduced to the Arizona Senate and nearly two months before its counterpart was first read in the House."

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, ALEC bills itself as "the nation's largest bipartisan, individual membership association of state legislators" and as a public-private legislative partnership. As such, ALEC claims as members more than 2,000 state lawmakers (one-third of the nation's total legislators) and more than 200 corporations and special-interest groups.

The organization's current corporate roster includes the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA, the nation's largest private jailer), the Geo Group (the nation's second largest private jailer), Sodexho Marriott (the nation's leading food services provider to private correctional institutions), the Koch Foundation, Exxon Mobil, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Boeing, Wal-Mart and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, to name just a few.

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Rachel Maddow covered ties between private prison corporations in Arizona and Arizona's lawmakers on her show Thursday night:

"Last year, Arizona state officials moved legislation to try to privatize the whole state prison system. Arizona planned to "seek bids from private companies for nine of the state's 10 prison complexes." It was the first effort by a state to put its entire prison system under private control.

Great news for the private prison companies, right? Great news, in particular, for Corrections Corporation of America, which is the single largest private prison company in the country. CCA already runs six detention facilities in Arizona. They hold prisoners from other states at their facilities in Arizona. They also hold the federal contract to hold federal detainees in the state.

So, you know what would be awesome for a company like that? You know what would be awesome? What would be really awesome for the shareholders and everybody if the state of Arizona started producing a whole lot more federal detainees -- people detain on federal issues, federal issues like, I don't know, say, immigration violations.

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Imagine the boon to the private for-profit prison company that has the contract to house federal detainees in Arizona, if Arizona came up with a whacky plan to arrest a lot more people for suspected immigration violations. Imagine how awesome a law like S.B. 1070 would be for an industry like the for-profit private prison industry in Arizona. Sure, it's an industry with an incredibly awful record in Arizona, but there is money to be made here -- and it turns out that that industry, particularly, Corrections Corporation of America, which stands to benefit the most, that industry and that company in Arizona, they're really well connected""

Just as one might say there's no racial profiling in the Arizona immigration law, CCA is maintaining they have no plans to "house" any illegal immigrants in Arizona. Morgan Loew, a reporter with CBS's local Phoenix affiliate, KPHO, whose reporting was a source in Maddow's report, addressed this claim:

"Maricopa County, the Phoenix Police Department, we don't deport illegal immigrants. When someone's picked up on the side of the road or for a crime, they're taken to the jail. At that point, their immigration status is determined. If they're an illegal immigrant, they're reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Then their taken to one of these private prisons, Corrections Corporation of America.

So, you'd have to do the math. But if you increased the number of people who are picked up, illegal immigrants, increase the number that are sent over to ICE, you're likely going to increase the number that companies like Corrections Corporation of America are going to be housing.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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