Just found this article about the CCA and Wickenburg in my box - it came via the guys at Private Corrections Insitute - they specialize in exposing and stopping prison privateers moving in on vulnerable communities like this. Their website is a great resource. So is the site for the Real Cost of Prisons Project: hit the blog, too. These folks have the goods on what prisons really do to places: they corrupt communities. Look at the dialogue already - they dehumanize us all.
The newspaper article is framed completely to push the prison as an economic advantage, as if they were fronting directly for the CCA - an incredibly evil institution that subsists on the incarceration of masses of people. A close look at Wickenburg politics may reveal some timely contributions to certain people and groups, as is the case at the level of the state legislature, where they're talking about privatizing the whole state system.
It's extremely disturbing, but it's classic politics and prison sales nonsense during down times, and somehow makes sense to ordinary Americans on the surface: let's lock a bunch of poor folks up here -"criminals" - to give other poor people stable jobs. Most Americans just don't comprehend the decay of our prison systems and the seriousness of the criminalization crisis. We lock people away for lifetimes, feeding them as little as possible -with hardly any thought anymore these days of anything but the expense or economic benefits to society of what essentially constitutes subjecting our fellow human beings to enduring torture. We don't even try to do anything called rehabilitation anymore beyond what is necessary for show -we just punish and brutalize people. In fact, when they complain - even when they raise their voices to claim their innocence - we just strip them further of their rights to be protected from the abuses of power that are central to the "successful" operation of such places.
I picked up Mona Lynch's book, Sunbelt Justice, finally, by the way. People need to read it - especially if they're considering a prison in their community. It's all about the history of "corrections" in Arizona, if you can call it that, and how our politics around crime and punishment have evolved. I think once folks understand what's going on - once they realize that no one is untouched by men who steal from school children to promote their campaigns of fear on the backs of the poor, minorities, migrants, and deviant women(like myself)- I think they'll start seeing these guys in a more clear light. Of course, Thurgood Marshall thought we would have evolved beyond the death penalty once we were enlightened about how unjust, racist, and classist it is in application. We know all that beyond a shadow of a doubt, now, and still we execute.
Who are we, anyway?
I think if we fail to answer that question assertively, as a people, we will be defined by those who vote for men like Joe Arpaio and Russ Pearce, and in increasing numbers - as is economical and convenient - we will passively, ignorantly, be criminalized. We have prisons planned fifty years into the future: why can't we plan to give future generations a world that doesn't need to depend on prisons for order and justice - and good jobs, of all things - to begin with? Is it not worth the effort to visualize it or the struggle to bring it into existence? Isn't it even worth trying?
I think it is.
Good luck to the resistance in Wickenburg - let us know if there's anything we can do.