No source of employment in America that depends on an industry which processes, prices, and profits from people like cattle one which still only sees a poor or black man as being of any value if he's enslaved or imprisoned - is a blessing to cultivate for our children and grandchildren to grow into. Every job and “positive” byproduct of courting their business depends on them successfully marketing to the communities which host them their two biggest sellers: racism and fear.
Private prison corporations will exploit all the resources they have to assure that Arizona continues to criminalize and incarcerate people at a higher rate than most of the nation – otherwise they don’t stay in business. That means they'll be funding campaigns and pet projects of legislators who promote their interests over the public’s. With a new contract and infusion of cash, CCA/GEO etc. lobbyists will take up even more space at the Capitol, where they will have better access to influence and power than our teachers, firefighters, and other ordinary citizens will have. They will be a part of Pearce's inner circle creating an increasingly fascist state. School children, nurses, and families of the wrongfully convicted will still be told we need a permit to gather on a corner of their lawn to try to get our voices heard.
Please don’t be deceived by the promises of riches these mend bring. I have no doubt they’ll make it worth your while to get hooked on what they feed you, but it’s just seduction. While middle class Arizonans slip deeper into debt, lose their livelihoods, homes, and even families, the private prison industry will be working closely with those in our criminal justice system who are most invested in the status quo, drafting legislation that erodes civil liberties, reinforces the power of the corporate state to use violence against the people, and perpetuates, not reduces, victimization. They should have the next new batch of prisons ready for the growing “criminal” class - which many of us may join by default because we are ignorant of the driving forces behind Russ Pearce’s Law.
Ultimately, each community needs to decide if they want to leave something for future generations that corrupts the very essence of what's American - this faith in justice and equality, and the exceptionally high value we place on freedom. To us, the private prison industry should be an utter abhorrence. We should be investing our resources in reducing crime AND incarceration rates - since prisons are still chambers of torture, and incubators of rage and violence.
We are not as brutal or greedy a people as our political and economic leaders represent us to be - they speak only for their own interests. I urge Arizona citizens to pay close attention to this political campaign season, and get rid of as many private prison patrons in the legislature as possible. They will sell us out in a second if it profits them, and we must not surrender our power as a people to define our collective character based on our faith and moral values, not our fear and capacity for vindictiveness.
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