A democracy thrives on transparency. That is why a National Public Radio report out this week about the effect of private corporations on legislation is making such a stir. A NPR investigation reports that private prisons had a major influence on the the drafting of Arizona's controversial immigration law.
The private prison industry significantly influenced the way the Arizona Immigration Law, SB 1070, was written, according to NPR. Through meetings with a group known as ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), state legislators met and exchanged ideas with prison representatives as they prepared the bill. NPR reports that these meetings resulted in SB 1070, a highly controversial immigration law critics have said would lead to racial profiling.
One of the major corporations cited in NPR's report is the Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in America. According to the Arizona Daily Star, the Corrections Corporation runs six private prisons in the state. If more illegal immigrants are detained as a result of the law, the corporation stands to make more money. According to NPR, the CCA believes the detention of illegal immigrants will be their "next big market."
The Arizona immigration law, which was halted by a federal court injunction, requires that law enforcement officers detain anyone who they reasonably believe is in the country illegally. The direct benefit to the private prison industry is clear.
However, the key sponsor of the bill, Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce makes a strong statement to NPR that he and his co-sponsers were solely responsible for it.
As the Daily Star reports, the current injunction on the law ordered by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton's law will soon be reviewed. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, whose area of responsibility includes Arizona, is set to hear oral arguments on November 1.