Humpday Hall of Shame: Corporations and Legislators Get Cozy in Arizona

Every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

ALEC’s (The American Legislative Exchange Council’s) States & Nation Policy Summit in Phoenix, November 29th – December 3rd, 2011, is packing them in.  Corporations and elected officials are meeting at the posh Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, shown in the picture to the right.


What’s the attraction?  ALEC is a powerful group of corporate lobbyists, along with legislators, that draft legislation without oversight.  Learn more about ALEC from an NPR report.

Nearly 200 pieces of ALEC generated state legislation passes every year, about 17 percent of its proposed bills.  It authored Arizona’s heinous immigration bill, SB1070. ALEC’s task forces include: Public Safety and Elections; Civil Justice; Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development; Education; Energy, Environment and Agriculture; Health and Human Services; International Relations; Tax and Fiscal Policy; Telecommunications and Information Technology.  All are poised to create legislation that works towards limited government, free markets and federalism.

We are particularly concerned about ALEC’s stand on criminal justice, prisons and parole:  “The evidence from previous studies is that incarceration works; however, there is currently not enough space in prisons for all convicted criminals to fully serve their sentences.”  And one of the solutions: “Private companies should be utilized, and there should not be a sole reliance on the government- run parole and probation system.” - A Plan to Reduce Prison Overcrowding And Violent Crime, Conditional Post-Conviction Release Bond Act, The ALEC Factor

And from ALEC’s “A look into the 2011 Legislative Cycle: ALEC Policy Initiatives in the States”:  “Reduce recidivism and cut costs for your state by trusting in the proven-effective private sector bail operation. Rather than releasing offenders through taxpayer-funded pretrial release agencies, rely on the private-sector solution. Support policies that limit the offenses that may be released without commercial bail and policies that place newly-released offenders under the supervision of commercial bail agents who have the incentive to ensure those released maintain employment, receive treatment, and show up for court (i.e. ALEC’s model bills: “Crimes with Bail Restrictions Act,” and “Conditional Early Release Bond Act”).”

If your state legislators are attending the States & Nation Policy Summit, ask why.  And check to see who’s sending them contributions.  If your legislators are not a part of that cozy relationship with corporations and their wealthy representatives, thank them and tell them why you respect them.