Private companies get rich on putting people in jail. What could possibly go wrong? Llewellyen Hinks-Jones explains in “Privatized Prisons: A Human Marketplace”:
Particularly with respect to drug and immigration law, private prison companies lobby on behalf of bills and donate to campaigns that support stricter sentencing guidelines and building more prisons. These companies also fund efforts with pro-corporate, quasi-lobbying groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to draft legislation that would result in locking up more people for minor offenses and misdemeanors.
Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” may be the best example of this. Private prison companies heavily lobbied on behalf of the ALEC-drafted bill that would have allowed law enforcement to imprison anybody accused of illegal immigration simply because they were caught without paperwork. If fully enacted, it would have been a windfall to the immigration detention industry operated by private prison companies. Copycat bills using the same legal language have since been discovered in various other states.