Private Prisons Worked To Pass AZ Immigration Law

A new NPR investigation uncovers evidence that the controversial Arizona immigration law came to pass thanks in large part to an intense lobbying campaign by a group that stood to profit from its enactment: private prisons.

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law [NPR]


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  1. obits3 says:

    Private prisons = No. There are certain things that should not have a profit motive.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      Really? Why not? Because it has to do with prisons?

      If a prison costs a state $10 million a year to run it, but a company comes in asking if they can have the chance to run it, asking only $8 million to do it… why not try? Obviously they’ll have to abide by the laws and you’ll incur a bit of expense in making sure they aren’t cutting corners… if the total cost of the privatized prison is less than $10 million… why not?

      • obits3 says:

        Privatization of police/judicial power leads to violations of due process. I say this as an accountant: Some things are not about money.

        • Gramin says:

          We’re not privatizing the police or judicial powers. They’re managing a facility but do not have any police or judicial authority. They are not officers of the law or the state.

          • OnePumpChump says:

            Yes, they are. They are the ones who supposedly are keeping a handle on crime within the prisons. They are controlling people on behalf of the state.

            And what do you call red light and speed cameras, if not a privatization of police functions? And in those cases, you get precisely what obits3 describes, violations of due process.

            • Gramin says:

              How is a red light ticket a violation of due process?

              Does the camera accurately capture you running a red light? Yes

              Are you immediately issued a ticket? Yes

              Are you given the opportunity to go to court and contest your ticket? Yes

              How is this any different than if a cop pulls you over and writes that ticket? It’s the exact same process… except that a camera caught you.

              And the Seventh Circuit, US Court of Appeals agrees with me. Per its ruling, red light cameras are constitutional and DO NOT violate due process.

              • obits3 says:

                “How is a red light ticket a violation of due process?”

                1. Many red light camera tickets are given to the owner of the car, not the driver. By law, it is the driver that is running the red light, not the owner. Knowingly giving out false tickets is a violation of due process.

                2. Many red light camera ordinances make the ticket a “civil” wrong. By doing this, they lower the standard of guilt from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “preponderance of evidence.” This makes it more likely that the hybrid Government/Private entity will get money. It is a greedy scam.

              • mischlep says:

                Cities have been caught reducing the yellow signal length time in an effort to increase the number of red lights run.

              • dragonvpm says:

                Actually in some areas this is still a disputed area of the law (iirc there’s still an active dispute in Lousiana over this very issue). Just because the 7th has ruled one way does not mean that it won’t eventually work it’s way up to the Supremes and even if it reaches them, they do occasionally get things horribly wrong (remember Dred Scott?).

                As far as why it may be a violation of due process, it was my understanding that a fair number of tickets are thrown out because they don’t actually get a picture of who was driving or they can’t get a clear view of the person and others are thrown out because they can’t get a good view of the license plates in order to even determine which car ran the light.

                Plus there is also the question of whether the lights were setup in an unsafe manner. In Dallas, “of the ten cameras that issue the greatest number of tickets in the city, seven are located at intersections where the yellow duration is shorter than the bare minimum recommended by the Texas Department of Transportation.” Remember due process is meant to protect the citizens from the state and instances like that really make me wonder if that’s happening when municipalities used things like red light cameras.

              • LandruBek says:

                Due process is a red herring here. Red-light cameras corrupt of the law-enforcement role of government, because the profits to be reaped are so tempting that cities shorten the yellow-light cycle so that they can write more tickets:


                There is a due-process boondoggle that gets played out, too: a local company operating red light cameras will mail out phony “citations” that aren’t really tickets, just offers to settle, because their profit margins are higher if they avoid the extra steps of filing whatever affidavits and other paperwork are required to make them into official tickets. But the first mailing LOOKS like a citation coming under color of authority; you have to read the fine print to realize it’s just bluster from a private company begging for money. If you ignore that one, which you may, then they might go through the extra steps to involve actual police, and then you’d get a real ticket. This two-step procedure games the notion of due process, in my opinion.

                Anyway, like I said, the bigger story is the corruption. Although red light cameras bring in private profits and revenue to cities, they do so at the cost of increased accidents, which is not a good tradeoff.


          • danmac says:

            But they have financial ability and motivation to influence state officials to changes laws in a way that causes more incarceration; that’s the whole point of the article!

            • Gramin says:

              I agree with your statement. Lots of corporation have the financial capability to influence the law… and they do this every single day. Look at what big tobacco spent back in the 90s.

              Having the ability to influence the law is a completely different assertion than stating that these companies are now enforcing the law. That’s just simply not true.

              • dragonvpm says:

                So who do you think would be watching the prisoners while they’re in these private prisons? Who do you think would determine if someone had met the criteria for “good behavior” and who would then would also determine if someone had committed a crime while in prison and therefore needed to spend more time in prison? The prison system is already rife with the opportunity for abuse, if you add a financial incentive any actual abuse that does occur is only going to get worse.

                Money talks and I would bet you the folks running these prisons would have no problem making more money by keeping “bad guys” off the streets for as long as possible.

          • obits3 says:

            By operating a prison, they are enforcing the law. This is the job of the government, not private business.

            • Gramin says:

              No, they’re not enforcing the law. They are operating a facility that is controlled by the state or federal government. Enforcement is done by the judicial branches of the United States and state governments. They must operate inside the laws and procedures laid out by the respective jurisdiction.

              • sixsevenco says:

                Should we privatize those oversight functions too? After all, they are just government employees, so they must be a waste of tax payer dollars, right? Certainly the private sector can provide this oversight function more efficiently and cost effectively then our behemoth of a government.

                • Gramin says:

                  Officers of the law and government officials clearly shouldn’t (and can’t) be privatized. But to argue that privatization is inherently bad is uninformed. Local municipalities routinely privatize waste management, water supply and grounds maintenance. Some cities outsource highway maintenance and their toll plazas. The outsourcing of government responsibilities isn’t a new idea, nor is it a bad one. There clearly needs to be oversight but it could save the taxpayers money.

                  Now, to the original intent of the article, I completely disagree with what’s going on in AZ. This is a disgusting example of a private corporation attempting to manipulate law for its own benefit. While this happens every day, this example is especially horrid because of its effect on the people of Arizona.

                  • Charles Bronson says:

                    Privatizing wastewater treatment and garbage collection are nothing like privatizing prisons. For one thing, if the garbage company is doing a lousy job, the voters will punish officials at the next election, so there is an incentive to make sure cost savings are achieved with some modicum of responsibility. Felons cannot vote in many places, so if money is being saved by treating them in ways that are completely inhumane and unacceptable, they have no recourse but to go to court and try to win against a billion-dollar corporation that has complete control over their daily lives and can prevent them from gathering or keeping any evidence of misdeeds, as well as punish them for drawing any attention to the issue.

                    And do you really think prison guards are not enforcing the law? It is their job to keep criminals in line, and they are allowed to use force to do so. Guards are allowed to punish people who do not comply with their directions, they can throw someone in isolation, take away property, even take away “privileges” like access to showers and toilets. If your toll collectors or garbagemen have this kind of power, I don’t want to live in your neighborhood.

        • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

          I for one welcome our OCP overlords.

      • Alvis says:

        Because the people affected by any over-the-top cost-cutting don’t have the ability to effectively complain and remedy the situation.

      • sixsevenco says:

        What happens when the corporation running the prison goes out of business?

      • danmac says:

        Because when you give a for-profit entity financial motivation to keep people incarcerated, there is an inherent conflict of interest when it comes to due process. Suddenly, no one is granted parole, inmates receive increased sentences for “crimes” committed while in prison, judges receive kickbacks to sentence minor offenders to horrible sentences, etc. etc. etc.

      • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

        For starters there was this incident with a for profit juvenille corrections facility in PA a few years ago:

      • fortymegafonzies says:

        When prisons are run by the govt, there is no rational motive for anyone to want to build more prisons or pass stricter laws except the motive to promote justice and the common good. When for-profit prisons appear, a *large* and powerful industry is born which can exert its power to build more prisons and pass stricter laws simply for the sake of having more prisons and more prisoners — more profit.

        • wackydan says:

          Except for all the public prisons that run as call centers, blood donation centers, license plate factories, etc….

          The state does indeed financially recoup part of the internment cost by producing products in their prison systems.

          • Brontide says:

            If you think that prisons recoup even a tiny amount of cash you are delusional. Those work programs are usually designed to keep the inmates busy or to do a public service. Often they don’t even brak even, but are cheaper than other forms of entertainment/distraction.

          • YOXIM says:

            Part of the cost =/= all of the cost, and especially =/= profit. The state does not profit from prisons. Also, from what I understand, prisoners get paid for their labor. They don’t get paid much, certainly not the minimum wage, but they get paid something. Again, if the state wants to profit from prisons, why pay these guys anything/

            • wildhalcyon says:

              They also don’t get a profit from private prisons. They are merely responsible, theoretically, for less of the cost – since ideally the company would be able to provide prison services cheaper.

              Of course, that’s not the way things really work. I suspect in the long run that private prisons are on more expensive than state-run prisons.

          • MrEvil says:

            In addition to recouping a fraction of the total outlay to house a prisoner, it’s also a means to provide an inmate with some sort of skill they can use outside of prison rather than just the skills needed to become a better criminal. It also provides inmates with something to do other than beef up in the yard and join a gang and continue criminal activities inside.

      • peebozi says:

        profit > human rights to corporations.

        in fact, this equation could read profits >>>>>>>>> anything else, anywhere, ever to corporations.

      • peebozi says:

        Also, publicly traded corporation must increase profits AND revenue every quarter….OR ELSE!!!

        It’s not enough to make a billion dollars per quarter for 20 years…in america, that company goes down the shitter along with enron, worldcom and merril lynch.

      • ARP says:

        For the same reason that I don’t think profit should be in healthcare- there is a preverse incentive to keep people locked up because more prisoners=more money.

      • mythago says:

        Because the primary goal of a private prison is to make a profit. Do you really not see the inherent problems with that, as opposed to the primary goal being to run a safe, secure prison in accordance with the law?

    • peebozi says:

      Ok, I’ll give you private prisons but where’s the fun in Health insurance if you can’t profit and squeeze every penny out of the sick?!?!

    • sleze69 says:

      Why aren’t we farming these out to third world countries, anyway? We could easily build state of the art prisons with minimal US oversight while employing third world labor as guards for a fraction of the cost of doing it here.

      It would be MUCH cheaper to outsource some of the prison population (supermax type) overseas.

  2. peebozi says:

    Citizens should allow their rights to be infringed upon ONLY if it means greater profits for shareholders of publicly traded corporations! Otherwise, we’re just like 1980’s russia and today’s china.

    Why do the AZ immigration law opponents hate america and our Free Market system?!?!

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      Sorry, I don’t even get your post if viewed in a sarcastic light.

      Look at it this way – a liquor store chain lobbying to keep the city/county it borders dry…

      • obits3 says:

        Your liquor store example is not the same problem. Your example has to do with changing the law. My problem is with private companies becoming the enforcement of the law.

        • TuxthePenguin says:

          Okay… there is a slight difference.

          How about a liquor store lobbying for the county/city to actually enforce the dry-rules in the county that are not being enforced? IE, small stores selling wine/beer when they shouldn’t and the authorities turning a blind eye to it.

          • obits3 says:

            Still not the same thing. While the liquor store does benefit, the benefit is not the same:

            Liquor store: Gets customers from other county. This will hurt the business profits of those in the dry county. People in the dry county can allways change the ordinance.

            Private Prison: Gets money from the government to keep prisoners who violate said dry law. Private prison has an incentive lie about prisoners and extend thier stay. Prisoner has lost basic rights…

            Do you see the difference?

      • peebozi says:

        What I was saying is the law is designed to increase incarceration rates.

        The way I understand the law, and I’m on the east coast so I don’t give too much of a shit about it, is that the cops are now able to stop and determine the immigration status of anyone they interact with in the line of duty. Couple of problems, if this assumption is correct:
        1) Which “papers” will be acceptable to the cops? I don’t look latino and i was born in the US so will my state issued driver’s license suffice? what if i don’t have it on me, do i go to jail until i can prove my innocence?
        2) a cop walking down the street says “hi” to a latino…do they now have the right to question that person’s status? or there’s a murder and 3 witnesses…do these witnesses now have to be concerned that they’ll be asked for their “papers”?

        Either way, my point is that the governor is invested in this entity that is attempting to profit from the tax payers. If nothing else, it reeks of conflicts.

        • dangermike says:

          I’m from California, specifically the greater LA area, so I’ve watched this case with quite some interest.

          First, I don’t think illegal aliens can get drivers’ licenses in Az. Perhaps a local could clarify this. So yes, an ADL would probably suffice.

          Second, there was a bill passed days later clarifying that the police must first have performed a legal stop before proceeding with ascertaining citizenship status, and even then, can only do so based on reasonable suspicion and not based on skin color, nationality, etc. as outlined in federal anti-profiling laws. Criticizing the SB1070 on this particular point is kind of splitting hairs, however, since the law is designed to require police to probe for citizenship status when performing legal stops. Even in its original language, it would have been an abuse of the law for an officer to stop someone on the street solely for the purpose of examining citizenship status.

          That said, I’m not entirely sure it’s fair to lament that prisons lobbied for the law when the plain fact of the matter is that the Mexican Drug war is spilling into America. The Arizona state police have even advised against any kind of stopping in much of the southern park lands and even in areas as far as 40 miles north of the border. The smuggling lanes are extremely dangerous, and the spillover of the drug war in Phoenix has led it to be country’s leader in kidnappings. When asked for help from ICE, what they got was signs posted in these territories warning travellers to keep moving. Any reasonable person would see this as a flat out border insurrection and recognize that current federal actions are insufficient. The powers that Arizona holds as a state are of course limited so they’ve tried to do what they can to bring this issue into the national spotlight.

          • MB17 says:

            Pffffffttt… I’ve lived in the area you’re talking about my entire life and I’ve never once felt threatened when out hiking/hunting/exercising. I’ve seen illegals crossing over, but they always scurry off like frightened animals. That doesn’t mean bad thing can’t happened, but there certainly isn’t an “insurrection.”

            This country is full of paranoid pussies.

  3. diasdiem says:

    That’s Democracy, Inc. for you.

    • obits3 says:

      Debit: Prisoner investment
      Credit: Cash paid to lobbyist

      Debit: Cash
      Credit: Revenue from prisoner investment

      To record the end of America

  4. TuxthePenguin says:

    And why is this more nefarious than any other company lobbying for a law that would benefit them?

    Oh, that’s right, because it has to do with immigration and a private company performing a service that the public sector has traditionally fulfilled.

    On the other hand, you could just as easily argue that they are simply asking that a law that already exists be enforced… of which they would benefit. Now its not so nefarious, is it?

    Actually, a better analogy with be liquor stores on the county line of a dry county lobbied to keep that country dry. IE, see Dallas (in this case, a city)

    • RevancheRM says:

      As was stated elsewhere in this feedback, the law that was enacted was written to INCREASE arrests, for the pruprose of maximizing profit. The airwaves were then blitzed with rhetoric and hyped-up attempts to increase fear and concern, so that more public money would be redirected from other public interests and spent on private corporations.

      In other words, do we rally want corporations and/or foreign governments to be able to so directly direct/influence the use of public funds, at the expense of everyone?

    • Pennsylvanian says:

      Well, the private company may be performing that “service” but it is still being paid for with state and federal taxpayer dollars. If they are trying to gin up reasons to imprison more people at taxpayer expense while potentially violating their constitutional rights, there is certainly more than one legitimate reason for taxpayers to be aware of this and look into how their dollars are being spent to benefit this fully government-funded “private” enterprise.

    • mythago says:

      Do you get paid by the logical fallacy or what?

      1) “Other companies do it too” != “it’s okay when this company does it”.

      2) The profit is being made off passing laws that will lock more people up in jail.

  5. Gramin says:

    Glad NPR was able to shed some light on the real motive behind Arizona’s racial immigration “reform.” Can’t wait for SCOTUS to make Arizona its bi***.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      I think that this case is going to far, far more reaching than you think it will be.

      There are several questions that will be answered.

      The first is “Can a state pass a law identical to a federal law?” Before now, that was obviously a “yes” – which is why we have state and federal laws that in many cases overlap – such as murder. Does that mean every state will have to do away with its own murder statues and use the federal one? After all, the Supremacy Clause cannot be “turned off” on a case-by-case basis.

      The second is “If a state can pass a law identical to a federal law, but pursues different implementation/enforcement patterns, does the Supremacy Clause come into effect?” That’s a much more delicate issue – what if the federal government refuses to enforce a law? What, if instead of being immigration, it was insider trading? Or the EPA and environmental law?

      The last is “Can a state pass a law more strict than federal law?” I think you can see why this would come into effect.

      Sadly, these three (and more) questions won’t be answered at once. But if the AZ law goes down, it’ll be decided in the courts for decades. And, as well, Sanctuary Cities would become illegal as well…

      • Gramin says:

        You’re a bit off. The supremacy clause simply states that the Constitution and laws of the United States are the supreme law of the land.

        A state murder charge and a federal murder charge do not overlap. The federal government cannot charge me with murder if I kill my neighbor. This crime took place inside Illinois’ borders and they have jurisdiction. Now, if I kill someone across state lines or a federal employee or a bank employee, the federal government can pursue murder charges. These aren’t overlapping as they both address different jurisdictions.

        In the case of Arizona, we’re talking about something that is entirely within the jurisdiction of the United States and the states have absolutely no authority to enforce immigration laws. Additionally, they have no authority to create immigration legislation on the state level.

        Regarding the EPA, you or I can actually sue the EPA for failure to enforce their policies. Unfortunately, this procedure doesn’t exist for every area of law.

      • obits3 says:

        “Can a state pass a law more strict than federal law?”

        Yes they can. Per your example: Dry counties

        • Gramin says:

          Wrong. Please provide me with the federal law that regulates the sale of alcohol. Per the commerce clause, they can regulate interstate sale and transport of alcohol but they have absolutely no jurisdiction to restrict the sale of alcohol inside a state.

          So, dry counties are not an example of a local government passing legislation that is more strict than the federal government.

          The federal government and state government have separate jurisdictions and responsibilities outlined by the Constitution. The federal government cannot interfere in matters that are not assigned to it by the Constitution: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The 10th Amendment prevents the overlapping of federal and state rights and thus prevents a state from passing legislation that is more strict than federal law.

          • LandruBek says:

            Ok, here is the law, which is case law rather than legislation, but that doesn’t make it any less binding. The commerce clause is the constitutional hook on which it hangs.

            The case is Wickard v. Filburn (1942) in which the Federal government asserted authority over wheat that wasn’t even being sold at all, on the legal theory that because wheat, in general, is traded in interstate commerce, any wheat (even grown by a farmer who was growing the wheat for his own use) was subject to Federal power. About sixty years later, John Ashcroft recycled this same theory to assert Federal authority over marijuana plants that were likewise not even being sold, simply because marijuana is traded in interstate commerce (albeit illegally). SCOTUS agreed 5-4 with him.

            Because alcohol, too, is sold interstate, the Federal government certainly could assert authority over its sale with the same justification.

      • dangermike says:

        Don’t pussyfoot around it. Cut to the bone.

        Bank robbery is a federal crime. Kidnapping is a federal crime. Terrorism is a federal crime. Should local authorities turn a blind eye to these matters as well?

  6. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    A for profit enterprise that operates entirely on getting a stream of forced ‘customers’ from the state lobbying for laws that will increase it’s flow of forced ‘customers’?

    What could possibly be wrong with that?

    Capitalism in action! Hey, if you don’t like the way a company is operating, just take your money and walk…..


  7. danmac says:

    The term private prison is a bit of a misnomer. While the prisons are private, for-profit entities, their revenue comes from federal, state, or local governments. This means the costs for incarcerating their inmates come at the expense of the taxpayers. Also, this kind of thing is just begging to be abused…see the story of the judge who received kickbacks for referring juveniles to a for-profit facility in Pennsylvania:

    The prison industrial complex disgusts me, and these “private” prisons are the worst of the bunch.

    To add a cherry on this shit sundae, I find it incredibly hypocritical that the individuals lobbying for these large institutions are the same people who constantly preach for the need of a smaller, more efficient government.

  8. Murbob says:

    If private prisons are allowed to become popular, it will lead to massive armed civilian assaults on said institutions due to the massive amount of corruption that will soon follow.

    Anyone who wants a for-profit prison system isn’t the least bit interested in justice.

    • sixsevenco says:

      But what if the private prison implants nanomites into the prisoners, and makes them play 1st person shooter-esque video games, controlled by teenagers for the enjoyment for the populace as a whole? Do you think the civilians would be placated? Or would they still rise up?

  9. bender123 says:

    So, since the left seems to think it is OK to allow illegal immigrants to break the law, because the people in Mexico are just looking for a better life, would they also agree it OK for my family to break into a $1,000,000 house that is nicer than our own? How about just squat my bosses office? Gas is pretty expensive and I need it to get to work, so are drive offs at the pump OK for poor people?

    • danmac says:

      Hello, troll. Enjoying the spewing of bullshit rhetoric and false dilemmas. Keep them coming!

      • bender123 says:

        Not trolling, just asking a serious question…What makes border enforcement any less “important” than enforcement of property laws? As of yet, other than the argument of “racism” or “because their life is so hard” I am not seeing any reason for this law to be disliked.

        The racism issue is a natural, because of the location (lets just say there arent going to be many Chinese people coming over the Mexican boarder…), which needs to be monitored, but the stats will always fall on the “racist” argument for the purposes that effectively enforcing the law will show statistically high amounts of Mexican/Hispanics affected.

        Other than calling me troll, why is boarder enforcement bad?

        • danmac says:

          The problem is that this article isn’t about border enforcement or lack thereof, nor is it about the rightness or wrongness of Arizona’s immigration law. It’s about the invisible forces that stand to profit from the passing of that law, the shady backroom deals where it was conceived, and the lawmakers who received compensation to endorse it. By bringing up tangential issues (the social implications of the law itself), you’re clouding the issue with irrelevant partisan rhetoric.

          • bdgbill says:

            You can imagine all the “shady back room deals” you want but in the end the people of Arizona got off their asses and voted “yes” for this law.

            Bender123 makes some valid points. Most of the illegal immigrants in Arizona are Mexican, therefore any enforcement of immigration law is racist. The only politically correct thing to do is throw open the borders, the schools, the hospitals and the welfare office to anyone who decides to walk into the country. This is bull. No country on the planet allows this, including Mexico. Mexico has some of the harshest anti-immigration laws in North America to keep out the undesirable Salvadorans, Hondurans and Guatemalans.

            • LandruBek says:

              It’s impossible to discuss the problems with SB 1070 + HB 2162 if you’re just going to throw strawman arguments about.

        • nybiker says:

          I just saw you got it right in your first sentence, but then got it wrong twice in subsequent sentences. Boarder =/= Border. And of course the spell-check function saw nothing wrong.
          Of course boarder enforcement is a good thing. You need to ensure that whoever is eating the food is the person entitled to do so. (BTW, should I have used ‘whom’ in that sentence? I can never remember that rule).
          Border enforcement is a whole other kettle of fish.

    • johnva says:

      The “left” does not believe it’s okay for people to break the law.

      • George4478 says:

        Unless they’re talking about “undocumented citizens”, also known as ‘illegal aliens” by those not on the left.

        • dragonvpm says:

          The “left” (whatever the hell that means) does not call them “Undocumented Citizens” and claiming that makes you sound like a complete and total DB.

          Argue about the pros and cons of various approaches to immigration all you want but keep the stupid, childish word games out of it.

    • Pennsylvanian says:

      Hilarious. Why don’t you read some facts before you spout your talking point:

      • bender123 says:

        Great and good on him, but how does this affect the Arizona Law or why are people complaining about the AZ law when it mimics the one being referenced in your example?

        • Pennsylvanian says:

          Because the Arizona law was passed to increase profits to tax-payer funded “private” prisons by rounding up additional “customers” via extra-constitutional racial profiling. Taxpayers should be aware of both the intent and the cost of such measures when weighing what is pitched as a security measure but is actually a profit motive – that they are paying for. The only thing “private” about those prisons is the profit. The cost of doing business with the government is that sometimes you have to answer to the people who fund it.

          • craptastico says:

            that’s not why it was passed. it was passed b/c legistators voted for it, just like every other law. private prisons lobbying for it is no different than any other lobby. it’s no different than environmental companies that lobby for things like cap and trade and pollution laws so that they can make profit by cleaning up waste. just because one is “good”(environmental companies) and one is “bad” (prisons) doesn’t change the fact that they’re both donating money that’s in their best interests, which is perfectly legal and moral.

            • Pennsylvanian says:

              When the state decides who becomes a “customer” of the for-profit prisons, they aren’t like some other company where people can take their money elsewhere and vote with their dollars. Stop trying to make your ridiculous analogy that private prisons are just like any other company! Honestly, you only embarass yourself with such faulty logic.

    • cspirou says:

      Not a valid argument. The argument is more if you would jail someone that was speeding? Or someone that was caught littering? How about someone smoking in a non-smoking area? They are all illegal just like an illegal immigrant is illegal. However one form of punishment is an enormous cost to the tax payer.

  10. deathbecomesme says:

    Until the law is changed and lobbyist are hung out to dry this is the way it works.

    • Gramin says:

      Hey now… don’t hate on lobbyists. Sure, I hate these lobbyists, but I like the ones that lobby for more education funding, stricter gun laws, smoke-free work places, etc. Lobbying is not always a bad thing.

      • Doubts42 says:

        2 out of your 3 examples are bad things in my book. and the 3rd isn’t all that great either unless you increase the effectiveness of the money you are already spending.

        • Gramin says:

          And you prove my point precisely! I like those lobbyists but you don’t. Lobbying is all about trying to push one opinion. There’s always a group of people who like that lobbyist and a group of people who hate him.

  11. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    / Reads link
    // Yawns
    /// Continues living in Arizona

  12. OBEYshiba says:

    by the way, Russell Pearce, who’s featured heavily in the NPR article and was really the driving legislator behind SB 1070, just became president of Arizona’s State Senate:


  13. DD_838 says:

    This is horrible.

  14. kataisa says:

    So? Most Americans (including Hispanics) are against illegal immigration, and our prisons are crowded enough with our own citizens without having to babysit Mexico’s criminals who view US prisons as a holiday vacation compared to what they have in Mexico.

    And to the posters upset about this where’s your outrage over unions’ intense lobbying to re-elect Harry Reid? What about the pharmaceutical and health care companies who lobbied hard to get Obama’s Health Care Reform passed so that they can make even MORE money?

    And what exactly do this have to do with consumers anyway? Stop peddling your political biases and get back to reporting on issues relevant to consumers. This isn’t Politico.

    • Gramin says:


      This is not a consumer issue, it’s a political issue. Consumerist tends to forget their purpose quite often.

    • EverCynicalTHX says:

      The liberal bias on Consumerists seems pretty strong these days.

      I don’t come here to read one sided politically loaded topics – I come here for consumer relayed tips and information. How does this possibly help me or any other consumer – why is this one-sided story even considered relevant?

      • ferris209 says:

        Couldn’t agree more. It is conveniently not mentioned that 70% of Arizonans fully support the great law, which ironically is written exactly like federal immigration laws.

  15. ShruggingGalt says:

    So these private companies illegally took ballots and stuffed the ballot box? I mean, because the side that always spends the most money automatically wins?

    Did Whitman win?
    Did McMahon win?
    Did Fiorina win?

    Obama spent more money campaigning than McCain, should we call his election “controversial” and look at every single donation, like the ones from the evil “Hdusahfd” and “Hduadh” corporations. Or the donations from “Dahsudhu Hdusahfd” or “Doodad Pro”, they must have bought the election!!!!!!!!

    Money sometimes helps but sometimes it doesn’t.

  16. Azzizzi says:

    I’m not surprised by any of this. I worked for CCA for two terrible years. I’m not opposed to privatized prisons, but this was one terrible company. I’m not surprised by the company lobbying for laws that increase inmate populations and create a need for their services.

    The private companies running the prisons don’t decide when inmates are released or transferred and don’t have any impact on their paroles, either.

    The private companies (when I worked for CCA) were paid a daily rate per inmate and additional incentive, such as providing vocational training to inmates.

    Where I worked (in Texas), inmates preferred the state-run facilities over the private facilities for several reasons: better medical treatment, better food, and better employees/guards. I don’t blame them. I found it easier to relate to the inmates than my co-workers in a lot of cases.

    • 3skr1mad0r says:

      I was reading some articles about CCA and GEO (formerly Wackenhut) and it seems they have had serious issues with how they treat people. If that can somehow be straightened out, I don’t have a problem with it, but we are talking about profit margins after all.

    • johnva says:

      It seems to me like there’s potential for lawsuits against these companies if they are indeed treating people worse than the state run facilities. And potential for lawsuits against the government on civil rights grounds if they are treating some people worse than others by sending them to these outsourced facilities.

  17. EverCynicalTHX says:

    Yes, Arizona obviously decided to enforce Immigration law because some prisons would make money.

    It makes perfect sense….. a liberal conspiracy theorist, a latte sipping hipster OR an “undocumented” who is here illegally.

    I can’t wait to see the courts b**** slap the DOJ for putting the interest of vote pandering politicians over those of legal American citizens and those that have to wait in line to come here legally.

    • RandomHookup says:

      No, the legislators may have had a serious interest in enforcing immigration, but they let the people with the greatest profit motive write the legislation. That just smells funny (especially since the industry provided support to the legislators to attend these events that didn’t require any disclosure — unlike other lobbyists must do).

      I don’t agree with illegal immigration, but the reality is that the people who come here illegally would almost never qualify for legal immigration (excluding some programs that help unify families). The economic incentive is much higher than the penalty for getting caught. Most immigration programs are for the educated and skilled.

      • EverCynicalTHX says:

        I’m the first to say most Latinos are hardworking, moral people with a better family structure than most Americans.

        The problem is that our government has countless social programs, an educational system that is more expensive then most any other nation, a medical system that provides some of the best care available – albeit at a high cost and a social net with entitlements that are barely covered now by middle class wage earners. All of this was based on the middle class economy of the 80s and 90s which is now fading away.

        This system can’t be extended to non-skilled immigrants given the high cost of services and low taxes ..even if we legalize everyone the math doesn’t work!

        We are already nearly bankrupt and under the current administration those numbers are growing even more now with the socialized medicine plan Obama forced on us.

        It’s simply not feasible and will only push over the edge.

        I’m not being an asshole, I’m telling it like it is. I work for a major health care system and since the influx of illegals in NC over the past 10 years, our indigent care has gone from 7 million to nearly 41 million.

        We have illegals that come here and specifically have a baby just to cement citizenship and we end up writing off 17 thousand+ for the whole thing..then they move and we can’t find them since they’re illegal. That cost is passed on to you and me – don’t complain about the rising cost of health care in one breath and then support groups like La Raze in the other.

        • RandomHookup says:

          I agree that many of those are problems. The real question is how do you stop people from coming in who aren’t going to qualify for current immigration programs? Desperation is driving a lot of current illegal immigration. We can’t really build a fence to stop desperate people from coming in (next wave of boat people?), so what do we do to stop it?

          Letting private prisons write legislation that will end up lining their pockets (and simply adding to the revolving door at the borders) probably isn’t going to do much to stem the tide.

  18. StutiCebriones says:

    Look, let the free market work its invisible magic. Criminals who want to be sent to publicly owned prisons will commit crimes in those jurisdictions; criminals who prefer privately owned prisons will commit crimes in *those* jurisdictions. Eventually we’ll have enough data to settle the question, and in the meantime, everyone has his or her preferred option.

  19. MrEvil says:

    Of all the privatization in government, private prisons scare me the most. No industry is in business to intentionally put itself out of business. Private prisons don’t want the crime rate to go down, they don’t want recidivism to go down. Rather they want those statistics to go up. And if they can’t do it by making sure that offenders become repeats, they’ll do it by lobbying for tougher laws that create MORE criminals. Prisons are the one thing that should NEVER EVER EVER be privatized because Justice cannot be profit driven.

  20. ferris209 says:

    Funny, I thought the 70% of Arizonans who support the great law helped it to pass.

  21. MB17 says:


    More arguments about stupid paperwork that doesn’t really do anything. Put the law into effect. Or don’t. Whatever. Millions and millions of Mexicans will continue to cross into the country. We won’t catch 90% of them. But if the stupid senior citizens who run Arizona want police to deport all the scary brown people instead of catching real criminals, more power to them.

  22. RogueWarrior65 says:

    As an Arizona resident, I call bullsh*t on this. I’ve never heard of this and I work with the local Sheriff’s department. But so what? There will always be entities looking to make money on controversial things. You think solar companies aren’t in it for the subsidies? Think again. I know a guy who ran a solar business the last time it was popular back in the late 70s. As soon as the subsidies dried up, so did the industry.

    As for SB1070, if you haven’t read all 17 pages of it you have no right to comment because you really have no clue what’s in it. That aside, as an American citizen born from legal immigrants, what law am I allowed to break and get amnesty for? Hmm??? Raiding Fort Knox sounds good right about now.

  23. Darwin says:

    So, NPR’s investigation uncovers “evidence” of lobbying? This is lobbying working as is does everywhere else in politics. There’s nothing illegal here at all, so please stop trying to treat it as such.

    I’ve come to expect this kind of liberal biased reporting from NPR. They have an agenda, and attack pieces like this show you what they are all about these days. I doubt you’d find any kind of investigative report from NPR on all the lobbying that big labor unions do.

  24. jeffile says:

    So? George Soros gave $1 million dollars towards the legalize marijuana in California proposition. Personally I can’t understand why any American (citizen or legal resident) would be pro illegal alien. If we need foreign workers then fine, increase legal foreign labor residency.

  25. Jimmy37 says:

    SO WHAT??? Illegal aliens are illegal. They need to be held somewhere.