As I've reported on extensively in the past, ALEC is a nefarious front group for conservative legislation that has been a major driving force behind our nation's crisis of mass incarceration. So there's no way I could pass up highlighting a new report that has come out detailing how effective ALEC has been at getting corporate-sponsored legislation passed in the state of Arizona.
You'll probably remember that ALEC was where SB1070, Arizona's "Breathing While Brown" law, was born, before ALEC member Russell Pearce brought it home and introduced it to the state legislature. The law was drafted with CCA at the table, and would have a direct impact on their bottom line as it resulted in increased incarceration of illegal immigrants, almost half of whom are detained in private facilities. Arizona also happens to be home to many private facilities that currently house out-of-state prisoners and immigrants, and the state is seeking to add 5,000 additional private beds to its existing state-run facilities.
So this report comes at a critical time for Arizona, as it evaluates whether or not it wants to proceed with a plan to contract away millions of taxpayer dollars to an industry that hasn't even been able to demonstrate savings in the state of Arizona. ALEC has pushed for the privatization of prisons in the past, and it has given private prison companies direct access to state legislators who are considering the privatization bids. Those same companies have also donated thousands of dollars to these politicians, all of which amounts to a tremendous amount of political influence for the industry in the state. As The Executive Director of the People for the American Way stated, "There's no way ordinary citizens can match the level of access and influence that ALEC provides to these corporations."
For now, the state is holding back on awarding contracts until some time in January, after it was twice sued over the request for proposals because it has for years failed to conduct an efficiency audit of its existing private facilities. Once that report is complete, the state should have (even more) data to demonstrate that private prisons don't actually save any money, which will hopefully compel state legislators to reject the industry's influence and make wiser decisions with the constituents' hard-earned money.