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Texas State Senator speaks out prison industry's involvement in SB 1070

Following yesterday's story about the prison industry's involvement with the

Eliot Shapleigh
Eliot Shapleigh
creation of SB 1070, Texas State Senator Eliot Shapleigh spoke some strong words against the bill and its creation, claiming that he would resist passing a similar bill in Texas. The Rio Grande Guardian (Steve Taylor, "Shapleigh: Private prison industry involvement in SB 1070 'despicable,'" October 29) reports:

State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh says stopping a bill similar to Arizona’s SB 1070 from being passed by the Texas Legislature will mean not only battling against racists but also the private prison industry.

“That the private prison industry writes a bill in secret to profit from an immigrant’s day in jail is despicable. America is better than that." 

We encourage you to read the NPR article in its entirety, as it outlines the extent to which private prison corporations were involved with the drafting of the SB 1070 bill which would make the failure to carry immigration papers a misdemeanor and would also broaden the powers of Arizona police to detain those who are suspected of staying in the country illegally. This bill is important for private prison corporations because immigrant detention is the main crux of their business, and with an increase in immigrant detention comes an increase in profits. 

In this same report by the Rio Grande Guardian, the U.S. Attorney General is quoted, challenging the constitutionality of the bill:

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder believes SB 1070 is unconstitutional, arguing that Arizona is trying to trump the federal government’s authority on immigration law. Holder instructed the Department of Justice to sue the State of Arizona and has won the backing of the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke.

Arizona Senator Russell Pearce disagrees with the NPR article, and calls it a "lie:"

An NPR story about the origins of Senate Bill 1070 drew an angry response Thursday from its author, who said the radio account exaggerated the role prison lobbyists had in drafting it.

State Sen. Russell Pearce, who first introduced a bill in 2003 to require law enforcement to question individuals about their immigration status, denied a report by NPR reporter Laura Sullivan that "Pearce's idea took shape" last year at a conference of conservative lawmakers and corporate interests.

"It's a lie," said Pearce... (Alia Beard and Casey Newton, "Sen. Russell Pearce: SB 1070 story 'a lie,'" AZ Central, 29 October 2010.)

If you are interested, we have recently investigated the extent to which prison corporations are donating to Texas campaigns politics. You can also see 2009 lobbying figures here. The NPR report on prison companies' involvement with Arizona legislation is extremely disturbing, but it has been an ongoing problem. We are glad that the story has caught the headlines in such a manner so that other Texas legislators, not just Shapleigh, can see the prison industry for what it truly is.

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