The idea of “privatizing” has always scared me. I believe that privatizing has come to represent a way to cut corners in providing necessary services. When I worked in education, districts were always talking about farming out ancillary needs such as custodial and food services. The goal is to circumvent state workers and trade unions in pursuit of cheaper labor.
Sharon Angle, Republican candidate for Congress, has taken the promotion of privatizing a step further. Recently, she has decided that she likes the sound of "personalizing” Social Security. I'm not sure what that means, but it sure sends shivers down my spine. She claims her concept is based on the Chilean model of governance - I thought they operated under a dictatorship?
On top of Angle, we have the "paper please" people. This includes the triumvirate of Brewer, Pearce and Arpaio. They lost their battle in court to politicize the immigration reform issue, writing a bill that had neither constitutional substance nor content. In other words, SB 1070 was poorly conceived and written like a fifth grader composing an English class essay.
However, this legislative setback will not stop the “Maricopa County Cop” from continuing his obsessive quest to round up and detain as many illegal immigrants as his posse can pursue - It doesn't matter whose rights get violated in the process. Maricopa County, Arizona will continue the dubious distinction of being "Numero Uno” in sweeps of suspected illegals. Governor Jan Brewer has played this out as a security issue, making outlandish, fear-mongering claims by stating that most Hispanics coming across the border are drug-smuggling terrorists who have be-headed Arizona citizens.
As a direct result of the "papers please," law, Arizona's tourism trade has been dramatically affected. Due to boycotts by businesses, and timid tourists, an already depressed economy in Arizona has been rocked. However, unbeknownst to most, one business has been the direct beneficiary of SB 1070 and Arizona's clamp-down on illegals. The private prison system, supported by Brewer’s administration, is one business that is raking in millions of dollars. Apparently, several of Brewer's closest associates have direct ties to the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which holds one of the federal contracts to house illegal immigrant detainees in Arizona. Moreover, Arizona legislator Russell Pearce has significant lobbying ties to Arizona's private prison system. CCA and the GEO Group stand to reap substantial financial benefits by continuing to incarcerate illegal immigrants. Brewer, Pearce and the governor's associates stand to directly win from this corporate con-game - the more illegal immigrants detained, the more money ends up in the state coffers.
Arizona's private prisons, and a governor who continues to utilize them, are responsible for a recent prison escape of convicted, hard-core criminals.
An initial investigation of the prison has revealed that qualifications for corrections personnel in this privatized prison do not meet the customary qualifications of state and federally trained workers. There are gross deficiencies in appropriate correctional worker’s qualifications and training and serious lapses in implementation of prison security protocol in Arizona’s system.
As the governor of Arizona continues to hype up rhetoric about fears of security due to illegal immigrants, she simultaneously has fostered a privatized prison system with serious security breaches. I have heard little from the governor about heavily-armed criminals escaping from a prison within her jurisdiction, and the security implications that arose from the break-out. I guess it isn't noteworthy enough. We'll have to leave that up to her political opponent for governor, Terry Goddard. But for now, it’s the same old Arizona political paranoia that we have come to expect from Brewer, Pearce and Sherriff Joe.