By Alan Bean
“NPR spent the past several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.”
Since the prison building boom of the 1990s, the gifted entrepreneurs in the prison-industrial complex have practiced a “if-we-build-it-they-will-come” approach. When America is already locking up six times as many of her citizens as most western democracies, how can you keep the flow of prisoners coming? First, you keep stoking the drug war. Secondly, you demagogue the immigration debate, order police officers to arrest undocumented aliens and your supply problem is solved.
Among other things, mass incarceration is a big-government mechanism for transfering money from urban centers to struggling communities in the hinterland. Rarely has the cynical machinery been so easy to trace. Thanks to NPR for doing the leg work on this story. It almost makes up for all those fund raisers.
Read the NPR story (replete with terrific photography) here. The text is reproduced below. (more…)