NPR Investigation Shows Role Private Prison Contractors Played in Drafting Arizona’s “Papers, Please” Law, Connections to Republican Officials
Washington, DC – As if the content and implications of Arizona’s “papers, please” anti-immigration and anti-Latino law were not offensive enough, a new investigative journalism report from National Public Radio adds a shocking and disturbing element to the story. According to NPR’s investigation, major private prison contractors were the architects and major financial backers of Arizona’s SB1070 legislation.
As NPR wrote, in a secretive meeting held last December, private prison contractors helped to write a bill for Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce that focused on a “new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona’s immigration law…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.” According to the article, thirty of SB1070’s thirty-six co-sponsors—including bill author Sen. Russell Pearce—“received donations…from prison lobbyists or prison companies — Corrections Corporation of America, Management and Training Corporation and The Geo Group.”
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, said, “The new revelations are almost too obscene to believe. Who really has benefitted from Arizona’s law? Not Latino residents of the state, who are treated as second class citizens by the law. Not those caring about community safety, which was imperiled by insisting on a law that drives a wedge between police and communities. Not Arizona’s business owners, whose bottom lines have been hurt by plummeting tourism dollars. Turns out it’s a cabal of prison contracting companies and the politicians they fund, whose concern for their bottom line and political careers trumps the U.S. Constitution, sound public policy, the reputation of their state, and basic human decency.”