What’s a worse crime?
Crossing an international border to steal a loaf of bread for your starving family?
Running a business that tags its profits to the length of time undocumented immigrants stay locked in prison?
Or writing legislation that affects the freedom of hundreds of thousands of people for the benefit of private interests?
According to NPR, all three scenarios came together to create Arizona’s SB 1070.
An investigative public radio report tracked the paper trail of Arizona’s controversial immigration law from the seat of state government to the wheeling-and-dealing conference rooms at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C., where private prison companies helped pen the legislation alongside Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce.
Together, lobbyists and lawmaker crafted a bill that would jail hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants for hundreds of millions of dollars in profit.
Governor Jan Brewer—whose spokesman and campaign manager are both former lobbyists for private prison firms—signed the bill into law last April.
Nailing the trifecta of private sector influence in SB 1070, NPR also found that many of the bill's co-sponsors in the state capital received donations from penal profiteers and their lobbyist buds.
Like any business, private prisons succeed by maintaining a constant supply of loyal patrons.
Arizona's legislative gift to prison interests promises a well-stocked customer base, as any suspected undocumented immigrant who fails to provide proper identification to police is subject to a costly stay in one of the state's private pens. Taxpayers foot the bill.
The blood-boiling, stomach-churning story is a must-read for anyone with an eye on the intersection of money, politics, and issues of national debate.
Check it out here.