Arizona's Governor,Jan Brewer (of SB 1070 notoriety) is Heavily Connected with Corrections Corporations of America

Jan Brewer & CCA: Making Prejudice Profitable

by Nick Jiles

For many Americans Arizona’s recent hate legislation, SB 1070, has ignited a firestorm of polemics, raising issues about the miserably archaic and ineffectual nature of our current federal immigration system, the scape-goating of the excessively pigmented during times of economic crisis (where have we seen that before?) and the suddenly cliché cry of state sovereignty. But as Arizona struggles to close a projected budget shortfall of nearly $ 2.6 billion both Senator Jan Brewer and some her closest aides have come under fire for their lobbyist ties to one company that stands to undoubtedly benefit from the “brown-while breathing” legislation known as SB 1070, CCA (Corrections Corporations of America). CCA, the largest private prison corporation in the country, currently operates 6 facilities within Arizona, 3 dedicated to housing inmates from Immigration Customs and Enforcement (I.C.E.).


In 2009 Arizona became the first state in the country to attempt to privatize its entire prison system- this despite evidence that such privatization would not be cost efficient and in light of the comically tragic recent history of inmate escapes and general security concerns associated with for-profit prisons already operating within the state. It is no secret that Arizona Senator Jan Brewer and some of her closest aides have lobbying ties with for-profit prisons that date back nearly a century, a fact that she and those around her have clumsily attempted to explain as entirely unrelated to the increasing number of private prison facilities that have sprung up throughout the state in the last decade.

A study conducted this year by the Arizona Department of Corrections concluded that when various costs are considered it is not cheaper to house inmates in private prison facilities (especially in the medium-security facilities operated by for-profit facilities within the state- where costs were found to be $3-$8 higher based upon assumptions of state overhead costs). So if Arizona tax payers don’t stand to benefit from the privatization of the state’s prison system, who does? Enter Chuck Coughlin, Senator Brewer’s top political advisor and campaign (gubernatorial) director. Coughlin also just happens to be the President of Highground Public Affairs, a consulting firm that, to the shock and awe of all, counts CCA among its clients. But it gets better. Another one of Brewer’s top aides, official spokesman Paul Sensemen, worked for Arizona’s Policy and Development Group, which also listed CCA as one of its clients. Ironically enough, it just so happens that Sensemen’s wife Kathy is currently a lobbyist for CCA.


Perhaps Brewer’s ties to CCA and her signing of SB 1070 into law would be more entertaining if it weren’t so terribly transparent. CCA currently holds the state contract with Immigration Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) to house illegal immigrants picked up in Arizona. But it gets better. The U.S. Marshall’s Office recently released figures stating that CCA receives roughly $11 million each month for all inmates housed in their Arizona facilities; a figure indicating only what Arizona pays CCA monthly, not I.C.E. It is a figure that any logical individual can surmise will be augmented by the thousands of bodies destined for CCA’s facilities via the implementation of SB 1070. But it gets better.


In the maze of blundering ambiguity and dumfounded silence that has defined Brewer and her advisors’ responses to questions regarding her ties with CCA there have been a couple particularly comical moments of idiocy. Coughlin, caught between trying to deflect an array of unsettling questions and protect Brewer from public comment on the issue of her lobbying ties to CCA, has graced his questioners with intellectual gems such as, “When somebody gets arrested, they go to jail” and “There are no private jails/There are no public jails.” Perhaps not satisfied with the insufficiency of his responses or the degree to which the discovery of Brewer’s ties to CCA have become a PR nightmare, Coughlin has admitted that his firm, Highground Consulting, began advising Brewer a year ago; effectively admitting that while he was actively representing CCA (today he claims that such representation has ceased due to his position advising Brewer) he was advising Brewer on SB 1070…a claim he had previously denied on several occasions.


Personally, I expect more from politicians attempting to line their pockets as the result of lucrative pillow talk with corporations and deliberate attempts to deceive the public. Brewer and her aides have proved terribly disappointing when it comes to the art of duplicity. Brewer’s ties to CCA are far too obvious, tactlessly orchestrated and even less tastefully concealed. Coughlin has cancelled all of Brewer’s scheduled campaign advertising on CBS 5 News in Phoenix (the station that initially went public with the scandal), this while Arizona accepts bids for the construction of a new 5,000 bed private prison facility. And beneath the sweltering heat of the Arizona sun the shame of a nation increases ever slowly, indelibly marring the principles that once made it the envy of the entire globe.


-Nick Jiles is an organizer with CUHW (California United Home Care Workers) and can be reached @:







The mere presence of a private “for profit” driven prison business in our country undermines the U.S Constitution and subsequently the credibility of the American criminal justice system. In fact, until all private prisons in America have been abolished and outlawed, “the promise” of fairness and justice at every level of this country’s judicial system will remain unattainable.  We must restore the principles and the vacant promise of our judicial system. Our government cannot continue to "job-out" its obligation and neglect its duty to the individuals confined in the correctional and rehabilitation facilities throughout this nation, nor can it ignore the will of the people that it was designed to serve and protect.  Please support the National Public Service Council to Abolish Private Prisons (NPSCTAPP) with a show of solidarity by signing "The Single Voice Petition"


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