Today’s big news in the US: An investigation by NPR reveals that the draconian Arizona immigration law was drafted with help from the private prison industry.
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.
What’s the relevance here? The story offers a lesson in the dangers of privatizing essential state functions, such as security. The NPR investigation shows private prison companies using the wealth they’ve amassed through government contracts to have laws rewritten in a way that further increases their own power and influence.
What makes this worse than the kind of self-interested lobbying engaged in by, say, agribusiness? The private prison companies can only expand their business by pushing for ever-stricter surveillance and ever-harsher punishments. In short, they profit by waging a kind of war on the population.
The companies in question, including the GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, are major Homeland Security Department contractors, and do some business with the US military, as well. GEO Group, whose chairman and founder, George C. Zoley, is pictured, runs a “Migrant Operations Center” at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
That’s GEO Group’s Gitmo facility, pictured above, and that’s Zoley, pictured right, emerging from the void with an ominous grin.