by David Safier
Here's what I've read in state papers: Russell Pearce says the NPR stories about SB1070 being a product of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are somewhere between a lie and an exaggeration.
Here's what I haven't read in state papers: a story devoted to the findings in the NPR stories -- that ALEC is a coalition of conservative legislators from around the country and businesses, including private prisons, that writes legislation which is carried, often word for word, to legislatures around the country as bills. SB1070 is one of those pieces of legislation.
According to our newspapers, the story is Pearce's denial, not NPR's story. Yet NPR is a respected journalistic outlet with lots of credibility. Russell Pearce is a politician with an agenda as long as the anti-Latino chip on his shoulder. But somehow, the story is Pearce's denial, not NPR's carefully researched story.
However, NPR is not leaving this alone. Today, Talk of the Nation devoted a half hour to the story, talking with Laura Sullivan, who did the story for NPR, and Beau Hodai, a freelance journalist who has written a number of stories about private prisons.
Sullivan took apart Pearce's objections to the story as dodges and partial truths.
There is no question, this is a huge story. We here in the epicenter of the private prisons story haven't gotten the good, investigative journalism or just simple straight reporting we deserve. A few television news stations have done excellent work on this story, but it hasn't gotten the traction from the MSM it needs to become a significant issue.
Having said that, the Republic has an article about the Quaker group on human rights taking a stand.
A criminal-justice watchdog group has called on state leaders to cancel a contract for 5,000 private-prison beds and launch an investigation into the private-prison industry's "lack of accountability" and influence on state politics.
The Arizona office of the American Friends Service Committee, a national Quaker non-profit group that focuses on human rights, held a news conference Monday announcing their concerns.
The group said it wants the Attorney General's Office and Secretary of State's Office to investigate issues including the private-prison industry's campaign contributions to state legislators, lobbyists' efforts to push legislation that boosts incarceration rates, and the need for private prisons in Arizona.
Hodai said on NPR that he met with the Friends Service Committee and that he's currently in Arizona. As a matter of fact, he was talking from our own KUAT. I wonder, have any of our local print journalists sought him out for an interview?