Target: Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne
Goal: To prohibit the use of guards from private prisons in high schools.
Performing drug searches is now a routine procedure in many high schools across the United States, yet in Arizona it has become increasingly common for private prison employees to assist local law enforcement in conducting the drug raids. This is occurring regardless of the fact that the guards of private prisons are not required to complete the extensive training that police officers experience, nor are private prisons legally allowed to participate in such drug searches because they are not technically a law enforcement agency. The private prison industry exists only to make money for its owners, and they do so by imprisoning as many people as possible for as long as possible. The parasitic relationship between the government and private prisons is a threat to American democracy and the safety of its citizens, and now it has reached our high schools.
The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)—the largest private prison corporation in the U.S.—has an especially strong presence in Arizona where it also serves as a board member on the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The income of the CCA comes from contracts made with the local, state, and federal government; the corporation is paid with tax money according to how many people they imprison on a daily basis. The CCA, like other private prisons, has gained great influence on the government through lobbying and economic strength. This past October, the CCA provided assistance in a drug search of Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande, Arizona, despite laws that prohibit such action.
According to Arizona Administrative Code, any individual participating in law enforcement must receive certain certification. No employee of CCA has received such certification, yet they have been allowed to engage in law enforcement activities—like high school drug searches—alongside certified, fully trained officers. This is dangerous for a number of reasons. Private prison guards are used to dealing with inmates and have no training for interacting with civilians, let alone high school students. Schools often use the term ‘lock down’ when referring to the drug search procedure, but this phrase has a much more intense meaning when used in prisons, which could lead to private prison guards using extreme measures in schools. Because their top priority is to make money, private prisons also have a stronger interest in prosecuting students who are found with drugs on campus, despite the fact that these students are generally under 18 and typically non-violent, first-time offenders.
Private prisons have no desire in pursuing the rehabilitation of drug users or their prisoners. Their only goal is to put more people in prison for longer periods of time. In this case, it is at the expense of young people’s futures and the safety of our schools. Tell the Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne the CCA is not above the law, and you will not stand for this violation of rights and threat to American democracy.
Dear Mr. Horne,
As the private prison industrial complex and the U.S. government grow increasingly intertwined, American democracy and the safety and freedom of its citizens are in danger. Private prisons see no purpose in rehabilitating inmates or helping drug addicted individuals. Their only interest lies in making money off the imprisonment of as many people as possible for as long as possible, even if that means taking advantage of high school students.
As you are most certainly aware, the Corporate Corrections of America (CCA) is one of the most powerful private prison companies in the country and has a strong presence in your state, even serving as a board level member on the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. They have gotten so strong, in fact, that they have been operating above the law. CCA prison guards have been participating in drug raids at high schools in Arizona. According to Arizona Administrative Code, any individual participating in law enforcement must receive certain certification. No employee of CCA has received such certification, and the CCA cannot legally be defined as a law enforcement agency. Despite these facts, CCA employees were present alongside police officers during a drug search of Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande, Arizona.
When private prisons like the CCA look at their fellow citizens, they do not see individuals. Instead, they only see the money making potential of the individual’s imprisonment. The private prison industrial complex has no place in a democracy. We ask that you put a stop to the private prison industry’s violation of state law that threatens the safety of our students and the freedom of our citizens.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Corrections Corporation of America