Wisconsin State Rep. Mark Pocan is attending the ALEC conference in New Orleans this year. He'd been on the ground in New Orleans only a few minutes when he overheard this:
“Yah, I’m down in New Orleans for the American Legislative Exchange Council meeting. We write legislation, and they pass our ideas. It’s the free market.”
What that means in practice is something like the current prison privatization mania:
ALEC has also worked to pass state laws to create private for-profit prisons, a boon to two of its major corporate sponsors: Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group (formerly Wackenhut Corrections), the largest private prison firms in the country. An In These Times investigation last summer revealed that ALEC arranged secret meetings between Arizona’s state legislators and CCA to draft what became SB 1070, Arizona’s notorious immigration law, to keep CCA prisons flush with immigrant detainees.
All these companies care about is growing their market share and volume of business. It doesn't matter to them that society is worse off when more people are in prison, or that these private prisons are notorious for lax security, high turnover and greater rates of violence.
It's in everyone's best interest that we start working towards decreasing the prison population. It's in CCA's best interest that ever more people are put in jails they run, and they're increasingly writing the criminal code.
So what we get is more private prisons as states cut early education budgets along with the rest of the social safety net. Early education spending, by the way, has been demonstrated to reduce crime so well that, this year ...
More than 600 law enforcement leaders sign letter supporting early care and education, proven way to reduce crime and lower prison costs
At every turn, ALEC encourages legislators to turn the public goods of the many into the tightly hoarded profits of the few.
ALEC costs us public safety, education, health, energy modernization, access to the courts, transportation and good-paying jobs. ALEC costs the country its dignity, as we're transformed from a broadly prosperous, democratic society, into a place where tax dollars are siphoned off by a lawless aristocracy. ALEC costs too frakking much.