Private Prison Company Muscles into Law Enforcement, Creating Occupants for Its PrisonsSubmitted by go213mph on Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:54
On Halloween morning this year, the 1,776 students at Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande, Arizona, were ordered on “lock down,” at the start of the first “drug sweep” in the school’s four-year history. Although school Principal Tim Hamilton admits the school had no drug problem, drug sniffing dogs were brought in, and lockers, backpacks and the students themselves were searched. In the end, only three students were arrested, two of them for possession of less than half a gram of marijuana (0.017 oz., the equivalent one marijuana cigarette or “joint”).
Fittingly for Halloween, some of the “law enforcement” personnel conducting the searches were neither police officers nor Sheriff’s deputies, but employees of a private prison company dressed up in police-like uniforms. In fact, for several years Arizona law enforcement has been using private prison employees in law enforcement operations, which critics say is not only illegal but creates a disturbing conflict of interest, since for-profit prisons make money when more people are arrested, convicted and sentenced to serve time, regardless of whether they are guilty or not.
“To invite for-profit prison guards to conduct law enforcement actions in a high school is perhaps the most direct expression of the ‘schools-to-prison pipeline’ I’ve ever seen,” opined Caroline Isaacs, program director at the Tucson office of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker social justice group that urges criminal justice reform.