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Well no wonder the Right wants to shut down NPR.

They keep committing acts of journalism.

Long-term investigation out this morning finds:
Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law

This is one of the most shocking things I have heard on the radio in years. The story begins when a mysterious gentleman shows up in Benson, AZ to pitch a plan to the city manager.

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.

"They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community," Nichols said, "the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate."

But Nichols wasn't buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?

The plan just needed a bit of legislation to help it along.

For that, the private prison industry would draft a piece of "model legislation" and use its powerful lobbyists and political money to get the bill passed it would have an innocuous sounding name. It would be called the "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act."

This bill would be sold to the public as a way to enforce immigration law and make our streets safer, but the real intent was clear.

The law could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to prison in a way never done before. And it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them.

Here's how it went down.

It was last December at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. Inside, there was a meeting of a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council. Insiders call it ALEC.

It's a membership organization of state legislators and powerful corporations and associations, such as the tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., ExxonMobil and the National Rifle Association. Another member is the billion-dollar Corrections Corporation of America — the largest private prison company in the country.

It was there that Pearce's idea took shape.

"I did a presentation," Pearce said. "I went through the facts. I went through the impacts and they said, 'Yeah.'"

Drafting The Bill

The 50 or so people in the room included officials of the Corrections Corporation of America, according to two sources who were there.

Pearce and the Corrections Corporation of America have been coming to these meetings for years. Both have seats on one of several of ALEC's boards.

And this bill was an important one for the company. According to Corrections Corporation of America reports reviewed by NPR, executives believe immigrant detention is their next big market. Last year, they wrote that they expect to bring in "a significant portion of our revenues" from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that detains illegal immigrants.

In the conference room, the group decided they would turn the immigration idea into a model bill. They discussed and debated language. Then, they voted on it.

"There were no 'no' votes," Pearce said. "I never had one person speak up in objection to this model legislation."

Four months later, that model legislation became, almost word for word, Arizona's immigration law.

Then of course, the money began flowing to legislators in the state house.

Thirty of the 36 co-sponsors received donations over the next six months, from prison lobbyists or prison companies — Corrections Corporation of America, Management and Training Corporation and The Geo Group

Go check out this amazing story about the emerging prison-industrial complex and how they plan to use immigrants as their new cash cow in states far beyond Arizona.

Thank You NPR for reporting on this dark underbelly of American politics.

My donation is in the mail.

Keep up the good work.

Full story here:
http://www.npr.org/...

UPDATES:

- Credit for the early reporting on this story and these connections rightly goes to KPHO reporter Morgan Loew as Rachel Maddow notes here.

- Here is the uplifting website of the Corrections Corporation of America.

CCA benefits America by protecting public safety, employing the best people in solid careers, rehabilitating inmates, giving back to communities, and bringing innovative security to government corrections – all while consistently saving hardworking taxpayers’ dollars.

- Don't miss the caption on the picture at the NPR site.

"Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, pictured here at Tea Party rally on Oct. 22, was instrumental in drafting the state's immigration law. He also sits on a American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) task force, a group that helped shape the law."

- Want to dig into the weeds? Tucson Citizen has lots more here.

- More great info here here

Originally posted to greendem on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 07:16 AM PDT.

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