EJI’s New Museum on Slavery to Prison

 

Enslavement to Incarceration

Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative has been a strong figure in today’s fight for equal justice. In a society that proclaims all men are created equal, many white people have made a mockery of it’s meaning.

When all humans are born they are born with equal possibilities that are crushed through every step of life. If their skin isn’t white, there is no equality. All non European white people learn very early in life they are superior to others. Does that mean they ARE superior? No, but it is shoved down their throat with the same absolute sureness as when people thought the world was flat and they were scared they would fall off if they sailed their ships to close to the edge.

Even when it was proven there was no edge to fall from, many people wanted to believe that truth was wrong. They declared, regardless of the truth, the world was going to stay flat no matter what. They wanted their belief to hold true because they has believed it so long.

Far too many people don’t want to give up the believe they are special and privileged, with superior intelligence; more deserving in any way. Some, like Ben Carson, the “See, I have a token black man in my administration’s cabinet,”  man who was willing to speak aloud the words that tried to make a new truth by saying, “Slaves were really immigrants.” as if they voluntary came to America to start a new life volunteering to be slaves. The fact they were chained lying side by side in the belly of ships, kidnapped from their family and land, dying in their own filth didn’t matter.

Lost forever was any respect the white man thought he deserved over and above any other human of any  race and color. In fact it makes the skin of those white people who believe they deserve privilege,  a boring skin of non color because the ugliness of their nature shows in all aspects of the nature of their life.

I can say these things about my fellow man because I am white. I am ashamed of those people of my race. I am thankful not everyone of my race believes with the ignorance of those who do and that gives me hope.

We see many things of color and exclaim, “Oh, how beautiful. The richness, and warmth of the beauty of color can bring tears to our eyes. Like the opening of a flower, color can warm and melt our hearts. From the music and passion of cultures to the tastes of  exotic mixes of foods. The stories of centuries of history. The children, all with slightly different shades of color – and what do we white people want to do with that?

Kill, enslave, mutilate, rape and incarcerate. Hide it away and make ourselves believe that what we did was . . . okay. We had a right. We were superior in every way. We said it enough until we believed it until we could not see we were ultimately responsible for creating the cause that has led to the death and destruction of any race that challenged any people who dared make the white man understand they are NOT the superior race they think they are.

They are poor. They are lazy. They don’t want to work. They want to suck off the the government’s teat so they can produce more babies and rape us of our hard earned money. Feed them for free.  Clothe them with money from free government checks. They don’t want to go to school. They could rise up if    they wanted to even though our shoes are standing on the back of their necks, face down in the street with a gun aimed to kill if they move a muscle.

This white man has no depth of heart and soul. They have only fake happiness that  comes with acquiring “things” that make them look rich. How empty is that life?  There is no unshakeable, absolute happiness that comes with the sureness of knowing from where you come and who you are.

Too many plastic pale faces trying to ignore the pain the white man inflicted. They want to erase that from  and pretend they didn’t beat, enslave and rape stolen people. That will no longer stand. Later generations stand as new generation of white people still try to manipulate their lives and make it look as though the condition of their lives was caused by them.

Keep trying to put the supposed superior race at the to of the list if you can, but the only way respect can be regained is by embracing the truth of what was done. Elevate their history and make amends for pasts mistakes and apologize by treating each person with the respect they deserve simply for being human. Wipe the arrogant look off your face.

The black man is not yours to use as a tool to create wealth. Our country is failing on many levels because of greed that puts the wealth of the few above the lives of many. Our world can no longer support this way of thinking.

This needs to be a museum of PAST history not current daily life.

Why Do Black Children Become Prison Inmates

black students

At a time when many white students are preparing for their life by going to college, many black youth are preparing each other by learning how to evade the police, because they know it’s just a matter of time before they become a target. This is not a joke. Black kids KNOW  it’s just a matter of time before they will be harassed by cops for absolutely no reason. When they are old enough to drive many get pulled over an average of once a week. There is no violation. They are just black and cops often do whatever they can to find a reason to arrest them, smash their windows, use their tazers even in front of their children, terrifying them. They don’t care what they do in front of children.  Everyone has seen the videos. I have two half black grandsons. If I didn’t, I could like all white people and say, they probably did something to deserve it. It really affects my life because I’m white and cops smile at me.  But they won’t be smiling at my grandsons, so I’m in this fight for the long haul.  One in three black men go to prison at some point in their lives. With 2 grandsons what are the odds of at least one of them will go to prison? A black man doesn’t need to be guilty. We hear often of inmates being set free because they were finally proven not quilty. Over 70% of these men are black.

It starts in childhood. Kids play act what they see. A game of tag becomes instead, pretending to be a cop and a criminal and learn how to arrest each other and pretend to cuff their playmates and do cavity searches.  This is real life to black children.

What makes it even harder for black youth is the way schools punishment them, starting with the attitude of many teachers.  Racism in schools is rampant. Many teachers teach racism by their actions.Why is it that teachers find it so easy to expel a black child, when a white child mihg de only get detention for doing the exact same thing? An after school fight for two white boys more than likely will end with their parents being called. If you are black, the police will be called and they get their first taste of jail and end up with fines.  If they can’t pay that fine they are arrested again. Minority families with lower incomes are affected the most. When a child is removed from school it begins a spiral down that becomes an inability to finish a high school education. Forget college.

inmate education, prison classroom,

This is what happened to Jamie’s life, and there was no one who could help him or his mother change the outcome. By the time he was in his mid teens with his high school years just beginning, the court system was doing it’s damnedest to end his possibilities.  He is 33 and he still isn’t allowed to take the test to get his GED.  He’s a smart man. He would love to have an education. With more time to go and still having no education, what are his chances?

It takes more than wishful thinking.  Because there is no one else willing to do the legwork, I have research to find out what his options are.  There is a school for inmates in Dallas called the Windham School.  http://www.windhamschooldistrict.org/

EDUCATING INMATES 

inmate education, recidivism ratefor educated parolees
photo source: imgarcade.com

Educating inmates lowers the recidivism rate back to prison.  Getting a GED, learn a trade or take college classes.  I don’t know yet what it will take to get Jamie involved or when it can begin, but it is worth finding out. I can only think that something like this would help him with parole. This isn’t automatically offered to inmates.  An inmate need someone on the outside who takes the time to find out about it. Overall, there needs to be more stress on inmate education if you want to slow down the revolving door for those who want to get off the ride.

This past year the subjects of prisons and decreasing the population has been a hot topic. Are the politicians serious? Or is it all talk? In this election year I have heard more hate talk and about people that shouldn’t be allowed to live here. The KKK is endorsing Donald Trump. If by chance he wins, what will they expect back? A large amount of people think we should have never freed the slaves. Are these the people who become cops who kill and teachers who expel black kids? Who taught these adults when they were kids that hating another race was okay? Who taught the adults today they are superior? Because somebody did.  Are these people who think they are better, because they are white ever going to want these black people back into a society that doesn’t want them there in the first place?

This presidential election year has shck n me how hateful, cruel and judgemental the people of America can be and it scares me. Politicians have to loudly proclaim the are Christians but their actions  at makes a country great, since making America great again seems to be such an issue, is the people in it. When I see the incitement of hate, and the cheering that goes with, when I see a candidate say he wants to punch a man at his really and people cheer it’s like watching America vomit all over itself.

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http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/april/discipline-black-students-041515.html

By

Racial differences in school discipline are widely known, and black students across the United States are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled, according to Stanford researchers.

Yet the psychological processes that contribute to those differences have not been clear – until now.

“The fact that black children are disproportionately disciplined in school is beyond dispute,” said Stanford psychology Professor Jennifer Eberhardt in an interview. “What is less clear is why.”

In the study, “Two Strikes: Race and the Disciplining of Young Students,” which was recently published in the journal Psychological Science, Eberhardt and Stanford psychology graduate student Jason Okonofua reported on two experimental studies that showed that teachers are likely to interpret students’ misbehavior differently depending on the student’s race.

In the studies, real-world primary and secondary school teachers were presented with school records describing two instances of misbehavior by a student. In one study, after reading about each infraction, the teachers were asked about their perception of its severity, about how irritated they would feel by the student’s misbehavior, about how severely the student should be punished, and about whether they viewed the student as a troublemaker.

A second study followed the same protocol and asked teachers whether they thought the misbehavior was part of a pattern and whether they could imagine themselves suspending the student in the future.

The researchers randomly assigned names to the files, suggesting in some cases that the student was black (with a name such as DeShawn or Darnell) and in other cases that the student was white (with a name such as Greg or Jake).

Across both studies, the researchers found that racial stereotypes shaped teachers’ responses not after the first infraction but rather after the second. Teachers felt more troubled by a second infraction they believed was committed by a black student rather than by a white student.

In fact, the stereotype of black students as “troublemakers” led teachers to want to discipline black students more harshly than white students after two infractions, Eberhardt and Okonofua said. They were more likely to see the misbehavior as part of a pattern, and to imagine themselves suspending that student in the future.

“We see that stereotypes not only can be used to allow people to interpret a specific behavior in isolation, but also stereotypes can heighten our sensitivity to behavioral patterns across time. This pattern sensitivity is especially relevant in the schooling context,” Eberhardt said.

These results have implications beyond the school setting as well.

As Okonofua said, “Most social relationships entail repeated encounters. Interactions between police officers and civilians, between employers and employees, between prison guards and prisoners all may be subject to the sort of stereotype escalation effect we have identified in our research.”

Both Okonofua and Eberhardt suggested that useful interventions with teachers would help them to view student behavior as malleable rather than as a reflection of a fixed disposition, such as that of troublemaker.

While racial disparities can be lessened by psychological interventions that help improve black students’ behaviors in class, it is also important to understand how that behavior is interpreted by teachers and school authorities, Okonofua said.

Jason A. Okonofua, psychology: (650) 736-9861, okonofua@stanford.edu

Jennifer L. Eberhardt, psychology: (650) 703-2224, jleberhardt@stanford.edu

Clifton B. Parker, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224, cbparker@stanford.edu

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YouTube 18 1/2 Years in Solitary

There is much I could say here about solitary confinement, but you can find many other posts and pages on my blog that speak of it. There are links on the right side of the page that can take you to other sites that will give you many more examples of it. The best one is Solitary Watch Between the story of the man this blog is about, who has spent a combined 5 years in Solitary confinement, and 10 years total in prison, first offense, with 7 years to go, and Armando Macias, who has 3 pages here and one post of his writings I have published, who is on death row in San Quentin, I have learned more than I ever wish there was a need to know.

I sincerely hope you keep on reading while you are here, and return often. Jamie’s story is one that needs to be told. Please share these posts as much as possible. If you go to the page that starts out with, “I want to encourage you . . .” You will find out the important places to start reading first that will give you a better understanding of the purpose of our prison system, which serves a purpose that is different from what most people realize. Prisons are full of more than just bad people or we wouldn’t be locking up more people in America than any other country. There is much money that can be made for the prison industrial complex. People often do the wrong thing for the right reason, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a bad person. So many people are locked up in mass incarceration for the wrong reasons and little is done to get him out because he can’t pay an attorney. Why should he should lose so many years of his life because of that unless there is financial motivation. During the eight years we have been writing it gave me a clear understanding of how necessary it was to help him. He mattered to me. This one human being, younger than the age of my daughter, father to my grandson, wants to have another chance at life.

Prisons are kept full using the backdoor method – mostly parole violations, not new crimes, although they do exist. Actual rehabilitation is not a priority. The fact that Jamie also has epilepsy and has had a multitude of seizures while inside, will only make it that much harder to find work. The fact that he spent over 4 years in juvy on a bogus charge from late 16 to 21, and not being able to get an education will also make it harder.

If we just sit back and read about these problems but do nothing to help, it will continue. Help me help him. Share this blog.

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Amerika Iz Addicted And Dependent On Slavery.

This is an article I have referenced many times. If you think you understand why we house millions of prisoners you need to thoroughly read this and find out exactly what companies are profiting from our full prisons.

Reading so many articles recently about the many politicians jumping on the bandwagon and saying we need to release inmates because it is wrong what we have done – but these politicians accept campaign contributions from these very prison corporations leads me wonder if it is mostly all BS. An election is coming. They have to appear to support what the people want, but after the election how much will really happen? These corporations are not going to want to give up their profit. Besides, they have contracts with the government to keep the prisons full – binding legal contracts.

Source: Amerika Iz Addicted And Dependent On Slavery

You Can’t Have Both – Reduced Prison Population AND Build New Prisonsl

My my it seems as though both sides of the political fence is scrambling to see who can proclaim the loudest that prison populations need to be reduced. The public seems to finally be noticing there is something wrong with the percentage of black men locked up in prisons compared to white men and are realizing they’ve been sold a bill of goods making them believe black men are born with a stronger criminal streak than white men. Black men invoke such fear in the white man for his safety. Where did that fear come from? After the white men could no longer use them as slaves they had to come up with another way and that was through our prisons. Hundreds and hundreds of newly built prisons.

wynne unit,Huntsville Prison,solitary confinement,mass incarceration
Prison unit Jamie is in
photo source; brokenchains.us

The ego streak in many white people who still feel they are better than black people goes back a long way. There is a lot of guilt for what we did to another nation of people. How could we possible accept them as equals after what we did to them? Continuing to enslave them and telling the people they have higher criminal tendencies, over and over until people believed them. They made their family’s lives as difficult as possible and rounded up every black man they could find and doled out the longest sentences they could – to protect everyone else, of course. And now they have a change of heart? Really?
Is this a bunch of hoopla in the year before an election where politicians promise everything they think the people want, but when the returns are in they just go about their usual business of catering to the corporations and the issues that make them money? Each political side blames the other. But why is it that this is the first election where both sides are trying to look like they give a rats ass about the inmates inside the prisons who are brutalized, underfed and are given insufficient healthcare because the prisons don’t want to pay for it? The families of the inmates have screamed for a long time about the mistreatment yet no one cared enough to ever make it an issue. So why now?
Everyone is now saying to we need to reduce the prison population but I don’t hear anything about what they will do with these released prisoners. They are under-educated. They won’t be given jobs because they are felons. They won’t be able to make money. Their families on the outside are usually poor because they have tried to raise their families without the men in their lives. If they live in subsidized housing, the fathers won’t be able to live with them or they will all be kicked out. They won’t be able to get government services like food stamps so they can eat. So how will they be able to survive without resorting to some kind of crime? Then, when they are arrested again, the media will scream that a mistake was made letting them go. They were given a second chance but they blew it. Yes, they were given a second chance but with their arms and legs still shackled. So what are these politicians, who are jumping on the band wagon now, and saying inmates should be released going to do to help them be successful? They couldn’t even get a job at a fast food joint. We know how difficult it is to take care of yourself or a family with that kind of pay.
They will be setting them up to fail.
What do they do with the prison corporations who have 20 year contracts with the government and have promises that the prisons will be kept 80-100% full – or the government will have to pay them for empty beds? It will cost millions of dollars of taxpayer revenue to let these inmates go. In addition to that, these corporations have paid these politicians a shit load in campaign contributions so they can continue to rake in the money they do on the backs of these inmates. Do you think they are going to easily let their fountain of income disappear without a major fight? In addition to the prison corporations that make this money, there is a very long list of American companies who use inmate slave labor to make the products they sell to us. This list of companies would drop your jaw. They have contracts with the prisons. Do you think they are going to just back off and start paying decent wages to Americans who need jobs when they can get it for pennies inside the prison?
There is something wrong with this picture and I am not hearing solutions to any of it. All I hear are politicians who want to get elected, joining in with everyone else who is saying they are going to be the one who is going to take care of this problem, and I say it is a bunch of bull. Do you think the building of new prisons for more inmates has stopped? Really?

 

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The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration

I read this article in the Atlantic before I saw this post. If there are still people out there who choose to believe the atrocities done to the black race were okay because they think they are better because they are white – then I do feel sorry for them. It is that kind of negativity toward another man that eats away at their humanity causing a cancer to grow. It is time to stop that cancer and respect all life. I say that knowing it probably isn’t possible. There are people who simply enjoy wallowing in their negativity. These people are too damaged and too unhappy to ever be able to change.

What that means is more people who understand – more white people – need to stand up and be counted. It’s not good enough to silently tell yourself it isn’t right what we continue to do to black families. It’s not good enough to say it isn’t your fault – you didn’t do it. You need to be vocal. You need to tell your friends and your politicians it has to stop.

The media has portrayed the black man as being more dangerous – of having a greater tendency to commit crimes. When the media – owned by one of several white corporations tells you that over and over, in your mind it becomes truth.

The rest of us need to stand up and say “ENOUGH!”

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colouredjustice.wordpress.com

The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration

American politicians are now eager to disown a failed criminal-justice system that’s left the U.S. with the largest incarcerated population in the world. But they’ve failed to reckon with history. Fifty years after Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report “The Negro Family” tragically helped create this system, it’s time to reclaim his original intent.

Never marry again in slavery.— Margaret Garner, 1858Wherever the law is, crime can be found.— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1973

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Crippling court costs force poverty-stricken people to ‘plead guilty to crimes they didn’t commit’

Adult court does not want to take time and money to cases that are being heard by public defenders, who actually work for the DA. They get paid on average, $75 an hour for maybe three hours work to convince you take a plea. They try to stack as many offenses on top whether they are true or not and scare you with unusually long sentences. If you don’t have a paid attorney to defend you, you don’t know what to do. Out of fear you take the plea.

In Jamie’s case he wasn’t innocent. It was his choice to go with his cousin that night. But having no attorney to help him made it worse. He had no priors. But a public defender isn’t interested in doing a good job for you. He’s only interested in being done with you so he can go on to his next “client”. At first Jamie was first told he would get 99 years if he insisted on going to court. The second offer was 45 years. When he continued to refuse they offered him 17 years and told him if he went to court he wouldn’t get that. It would surely be much higher. He was scared. He took the 17 years. He has now almost done 10 of that. They don’t like to parole blacks so he is afraid to get his hopes up. He does have an uncle that works in the parole system in his area so there is hope he can somehow intervene. But since they keep him in ad seg, and can’t show he has improved himself there is still only slim hope. The prison system sets them up to fail.

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Dr. Angela Davis – Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex

Angela Davis
(Sonni’s note: I read this article today. Look at the date. It was written seventeen years ago. Do you think there has been any positive change or has the problem has only got worse? There are so many people who don’t pay attention because they don’t think it affects them. But it does. It affects everyone. It affects the job market, it adds to the greedy nature of many of our leaders in government. It affects our communities and the way we think about those people. The media brainwashes people into thinking that somehow black people has less quality than white people and they deserve to be locked up because they are a danger to society. If you, or anyone you know has that attitude, be sure to send this article to them. Post it on your social media pages and reblog it onto your own blogs. If you go to the pages section near the top of this blog tap on the menu button. You will find a YouTube video of a more recent TED talk of Angela Davis.

Read this entire article. It’s worth it. It says everything I’ve been trying to explain over and over.  We need more people who think this change is important to our society and to our country.

 Dr. angela davis

by Angela Davis

Thu, Sep 10, 1998 12:00 PM EDT

What is the Prison Industrial Complex? Why does it matter?  Angela Y. Davis tells us.

Imprisonment has become the response of first resort to far too many of the social problems that burden people who are ensconced in poverty. These problems often are veiled by being conveniently grouped together under the category “crime” and by the automatic attribution of criminal behavior to people of color. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.

Prisons thus perform a feat of magic. Or rather the people who continually vote in new prison bonds and tacitly assent to a proliferating network of prisons and jails have been tricked into believing in the magic of imprisonment. But prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings. And the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant, and racially marginalized communities has literally become big business.

The seeming effortlessness of magic always conceals an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes work. When prisons disappear human beings in order to convey the illusion of solving social problems, penal infrastructures must be created to accommodate a rapidly swelling population of caged people. Goods and services must be provided to keep imprisoned populations alive. Sometimes these populations must be kept busy and at other times — particularly in repressive super-maximum prisons and in INS detention centers — they must be deprived of virtually all meaningful activity. Vast numbers of handcuffed and shackled people are moved across state borders as they are transferred from one state or federal prison to another.

All this work, which used to be the primary province of government, is now also performed by private corporations, whose links to government in the field of what is euphemistically called “corrections” resonate dangerously with the military industrial complex. The dividends that accrue from investment in the punishment industry, like those that accrue from investment in weapons production, only amount to social destruction. Taking into account the structural similarities and profitability of business-government linkages in the realms of military production and public punishment, the expanding penal system can now be characterized as a “prison industrial complex.”

The Color of Imprisonment

Almost two million people are currently locked up in the immense network of U.S. prisons and jails. More than 70 percent of the imprisoned population are people of color. It is rarely acknowledged that the fastest growing group of prisoners are black women and that Native American prisoners are the largest group per capita. Approximately five million people — including those on probation and parole — are directly under the surveillance of the criminal justice system.

Three decades ago, the imprisoned population was approximately one-eighth its current size. While women still constitute a relatively small percentage of people behind bars, today the number of incarcerated women in California alone is almost twice what the nationwide women’s prison population was in 1970. According to Elliott Currie, “[t]he prison has become a looming presence in our society to an extent unparalleled in our history — or that of any other industrial democracy. Short of major wars, mass incarceration has been the most thoroughly implemented government social program of our time.”

To deliver up bodies destined for profitable punishment, the political economy of prisons relies on racialized assumptions of criminality — such as images of black welfare mothers reproducing criminal children — and on racist practices in arrest, conviction, and sentencing patterns. Colored bodies constitute the main human raw material in this vast experiment to disappear the major social problems of our time. Once the aura of magic is stripped away from the imprisonment solution, what is revealed is racism, class bias, and the parasitic seduction of capitalist profit. The prison industrial system materially and morally impoverishes its inhabitants and devours the social wealth needed to address the very problems that have led to spiraling numbers of prisoners.

As prisons take up more and more space on the social landscape, other government programs that have previously sought to respond to social needs — such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families — are being squeezed out of existence. The deterioration of public education, including prioritizing discipline and security over learning in public schools located in poor communities, is directly related to the prison “solution.”

Profiting from Prisoners

As prisons proliferate in U.S. society, private capital has become enmeshed in the punishment industry. And precisely because of their profit potential, prisons are becoming increasingly important to the U.S. economy. If the notion of punishment as a source of potentially stupendous profits is disturbing by itself, then the strategic dependence on racist structures and ideologies to render mass punishment palatable and profitable is even more troubling.

Prison privatization is the most obvious instance of capital’s current movement toward the prison industry. While government-run prisons are often in gross violation of international human rights standards, private prisons are even less accountable. In March of this year, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest U.S. private prison company, claimed 54,944 beds in 68 facilities under contract or development in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Following the global trend of subjecting more women to public punishment, CCA recently opened a women’s prison outside Melbourne. The company recently identified California as its “new frontier.”

Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC), the second largest U.S. prison company, claimed contracts and awards to manage 46 facilities in North America, U.K., and Australia. It boasts a total of 30,424 beds as well as contracts for prisoner health care services, transportation, and security.

Currently, the stocks of both CCA and WCC are doing extremely well. Between 1996 and 1997, CCA’s revenues increased by 58 percent, from $293 million to $462 million. Its net profit grew from $30.9 million to $53.9 million. WCC raised its revenues from $138 million in 1996 to $210 million in 1997. Unlike public correctional facilities, the vast profits of these private facilities rely on the employment of non-union labor.

The Prison Industrial Complex

But private prison companies are only the most visible component of the increasing corporatization of punishment. Government contracts to build prisons have bolstered the construction industry. The architectural community has identified prison design as a major new niche. Technology developed for the military by companies like Westinghouse is being marketed for use in law enforcement and punishment.

Moreover, corporations that appear to be far removed from the business of punishment are intimately involved in the expansion of the prison industrial complex. Prison construction bonds are one of the many sources of profitable investment for leading financiers such as Merrill Lynch. MCI charges prisoners and their families outrageous prices for the precious telephone calls which are often the only contact prisoners have with the free world.

Many corporations whose products we consume on a daily basis have learned that prison labor power can be as profitable as third world labor power exploited by U.S.-based global corporations. Both relegate formerly unionized workers to joblessness and many even wind up in prison. Some of the companies that use prison labor are IBM, Motorola, Compaq, Texas Instruments, Honeywell, Microsoft, and Boeing. But it is not only the hi-tech industries that reap the profits of prison labor. Nordstrom department stores sell jeans that are marketed as “Prison Blues,” as well as t-shirts and jackets made in Oregon prisons. The advertising slogan for these clothes is “made on the inside to be worn on the outside.” Maryland prisoners inspect glass bottles and jars used by Revlon and Pierre Cardin, and schools throughout the world buy graduation caps and gowns made by South Carolina prisoners.

“For private business,” write Eve Goldberg and Linda Evans (a political prisoner inside the Federal Correctional Institution at Dublin, California) “prison labor is like a pot of gold. No strikes. No union organizing. No health benefits, unemployment insurance, or workers’ compensation to pay. No language barriers, as in foreign countries. New leviathan prisons are being built on thousands of eerie acres of factories inside the walls. Prisoners do data entry for Chevron, make telephone reservations for TWA, raise hogs, shovel manure, make circuit boards, limousines, waterbeds, and lingerie for Victoria’s Secret — all at a fraction of the cost of ‘free labor.’”

Devouring the Social Wealth

Although prison labor — which ultimately is compensated at a rate far below the minimum wage — is hugely profitable for the private companies that use it, the penal system as a whole does not produce wealth. It devours the social wealth that could be used to subsidize housing for the homeless, to ameliorate public education for poor and racially marginalized communities, to open free drug rehabilitation programs for people who wish to kick their habits, to create a national health care system, to expand programs to combat HIV, to eradicate domestic abuse — and, in the process, to create well-paying jobs for the unemployed.

Since 1984 more than twenty new prisons have opened in California, while only one new campus was added to the California State University system and none to the University of California system. In 1996-97, higher education received only 8.7 percent of the State’s General Fund while corrections received 9.6 percent. Now that affirmative action has been declared illegal in California, it is obvious that education is increasingly reserved for certain people, while prisons are reserved for others. Five times as many black men are presently in prison as in four-year colleges and universities. This new segregation has dangerous implications for the entire country.By segregating people labeled as criminals, prison simultaneously fortifies and conceals the structural racism of the U.S. economy. Claims of low unemployment rates — even in black communities — make sense only if one assumes that the vast numbers of people in prison have really disappeared and thus have no legitimate claims to jobs. The numbers of black and Latino men currently incarcerated amount to two percent of the male labor force. According to criminologist David Downes, “[t]reating incarceration as a type of hidden unemployment may raise the jobless rate for men by about one-third, to 8 percent. The effect on the black labor force is greater still, raising the [black] male unemployment rate from 11 percent to 19 percent.”

Hidden Agenda

Mass incarceration is not a solution to unemployment, nor is it a solution to the vast array of social problems that are hidden away in a rapidly growing network of prisons and jails. However, the great majority of people have been tricked into believing in the efficacy of imprisonment, even though the historical record clearly demonstrates that prisons do not work. Racism has undermined our ability to create a popular critical discourse to contest the ideological trickery that posits imprisonment as key to public safety. The focus of state policy is rapidly shifting from social welfare to social control.

Black, Latino, Native American, and many Asian youth are portrayed as the purveyors of violence, traffickers of drugs, and as envious of commodities that they have no right to possess. Young black and Latina women are represented as sexually promiscuous and as indiscriminately propagating babies and poverty. Criminality and deviance are racialized. Surveillance is thus focused on communities of color, immigrants, the unemployed, the undereducated, the homeless, and in general on those who have a diminishing claim to social resources. Their claim to social resources continues to diminish in large part because law enforcement and penal measures increasingly devour these resources. The prison industrial complex has thus created a vicious cycle of punishment which only further impoverishes those whose impoverishment is supposedly “solved” by imprisonment.

Therefore, as the emphasis of government policy shifts from social welfare to crime control, racism sinks more deeply into the economic and ideological structures of U.S. society. Meanwhile, conservative crusaders against affirmative action and bilingual education proclaim the end of racism, while their opponents suggest that racism’s remnants can be dispelled through dialogue and conversation. But conversations about “race relations” will hardly dismantle a prison industrial complex that thrives on and nourishes the racism hidden within the deep structures of our society.

The emergence of a U.S. prison industrial complex within a context of cascading conservatism marks a new historical moment, whose dangers are unprecedented. But so are its opportunities. Considering the impressive number of grassroots projects that continue to resist the expansion of the punishment industry, it ought to be possible to bring these efforts together to create radical and nationally visible movements that can legitimize anti-capitalist critiques of the prison industrial complex. It ought to be possible to build movements in defense of prisoners’ human rights and movements that persuasively argue that what we need is not new prisons, but new health care, housing, education, drug programs, jobs, and education. To safeguard a democratic future, it is possible and necessary to weave together the many and increasing strands of resistance to the prison industrial complex into a powerful movement for social transformation.

Angela Davis is a former political prisoner, long-time activist, educator, and author who has devoted her life to struggles for social justice.

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Earlier written post: Upfront and Personal About the the Prison Industrial Complex

5 Reasons Why 1.5 Million Black Men Are “Missing” In America, According To The NY Times

missing black men, racism in our justice system
photo credit:
ummid.com

I am reblogging this because it is exactly what I just wrote about why so many black children do not have two parents. This has the numbers for both black men and black women compared to white people. These are not made up numbers. This reality is about what is happening in this once great country that still feels it is okay to imprison people of color even though slavery was abolished 150 years ago. They just found another way around it and kept it legal. Slavery is slavery is slavery

Black America Web

If you are a Black person living in America, then this headline from Monday’s New York Times may be jarring, but not truly shocking: 1.5 Million Missing Black Men.

What it addresses is the number of Black men aged 25-54 who are missing from daily life in our country, mostly due to early death or incarceration. Writes the Times:

They are missing, largely because of early deaths or because they are behind bars. Remarkably, black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million, according to an Upshot analysis. For every 100 black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men. Among whites, the equivalent number is 99, nearly parity.

The result is a tragic gender gap within the Black community affecting families, wealth accumulation, romance, and more. Those of us…

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