The buckdance continues…
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Same as the old slavery, except there’s no cotton involved…
The prison industrial complex profits from high numbers of convictions and long prison sentences. Privatizing the jail system has led to widespread abuse – and the United States incarcerating a larger portion of their population than Communist countries ever did.
Human rights organizations, as well as political and social ones, are condemning what they are calling a new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where they say a prison population of up to 2 million – mostly Black and Hispanic – are working for various industries for a pittance. For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.
There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports.
What has happened over the last 10 years? Why are there so many prisoners?
“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”
The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. “This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.”
According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.
CRIME GOES DOWN, JAIL POPULATION GOES UP
According to reports by human rights organizations, these are the factors that increase the profit potential for those who invest in the prison industry complex:
. Jailing persons convicted of non-violent crimes, and long prison sentences for possession of microscopic quantities of illegal drugs. Federal law stipulates five years’ imprisonment without possibility of parole for possession of 5 grams of crack or 3.5 ounces of heroin, and 10 years for possession of less than 2 ounces of rock-cocaine or crack. A sentence of 5 years for cocaine powder requires possession of 500 grams – 100 times more than the quantity of rock cocaine for the same sentence. Most of those who use cocaine powder are white, middle-class or rich people, while mostly Blacks and Latinos use rock cocaine. In Texas, a person may be sentenced for up to two years’ imprisonment for possessing 4 ounces of marijuana. Here in New York, the 1973 Nelson Rockefeller anti-drug law provides for a mandatory prison sentence of 15 years to life for possession of 4 ounces of any illegal drug.
. The passage in 13 states of the “three strikes” laws (life in prison after being convicted of three felonies), made it necessary to build 20 new federal prisons. One of the most disturbing cases resulting from this measure was that of a prisoner who for stealing a car and two bicycles received three 25-year sentences.
. Longer sentences.
. The passage of laws that require minimum sentencing, without regard for circumstances.
. A large expansion of work by prisoners creating profits that motivate the incarceration of more people for longer periods of time.
. More punishment of prisoners, so as to lengthen their sentences.
HISTORY OF PRISON LABOR IN THE UNITED STATES
Prison labor has its roots in slavery. After the 1861-1865 Civil War, a system of “hiring out prisoners” was introduced in order to continue the slavery tradition. Freed slaves were charged with not carrying out their sharecropping commitments (cultivating someone else’s land in exchange for part of the harvest) or petty thievery – which were almost never proven – and were then “hired out” for cotton picking, working in mines and building railroads. From 1870 until 1910 in the state of Georgia, 88% of hired-out convicts were Black. In Alabama, 93% of “hired-out” miners were Black. In Mississippi, a huge prison farm similar to the old slave plantations replaced the system of hiring out convicts. The notorious Parchman plantation existed until 1972… (more)
You really got to wonder why in the middle of a recession, and with gas prices the way they are – people are still driving these damn things.
Bushit era excess. Couple of folks down the road from me have Hummers – Every time I see them I root for a tree to jump out in front of them.
Beautiful sister, killed by a pig.
Natasha Pettigrew, a Maryland Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, died late Monday, two days after a Cadillac Escalade hit her while she was bicycling. The 30-year-old was training for a triathlon about an hour before sunrise, the Washington Post reports:
In a statement, Maryland Green Party co-chairman Brian Bittner said that Pettigrew had “incredible potential as a future leader for this party and this state” and that the Green Party had “never experienced a loss like this.”
“We all looked forward to working with Natasha for years to come,” Bittner said.
Pettigrew was hit by a sport-utility vehicle traveling near the intersection of Campus Way. State police said the driver apparently thought she had hit a deer or another animal and realized what had happened only when she arrived home and found Pettigrew’s bicycle trapped under her car. Pettigrew was not dragged by the vehicle but suffered severe injuries, police said.
Justice is slow – but at least in this case… It’s getting there.
Former New Orleans Police Officer Jeffrey Lehrmann was sentenced Wednesday to three years in federal prison for his part in the cover-up of the Danziger Bridge shootings, our partners at the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported today.
Lehrmann is one of 11 officers who have been charged in the Sept. 4, 2005 incident, in which police officers opened fire on unarmed civilians, killing two and wounding four others. He was the first of five officers to cooperate with federal investigators.
Lehrmann pleaded guilty in February to concealing a crime, after coming forward and disclosing his role in an extensive cover-up that followed the shootings. According to the bill of information filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, Lehrmann “participated in the creation of false reports” and provided “false information to investigating agents.” He is the first to be sentenced in the case and is expected to testify in the trial of other officers.
ProPublica, the Times-Picayune and PBS Frontline have been investigating the circumstances around the shooting of 10 unarmed civilians by NOPD in the days after Hurricane Katrina. In addition to theDanziger Bridge case, the killings of Henry Glover,Danny Brumfield, and Matthew McDonald, and the shooting of Keenon McCann remain open federal investigations.
In August, in response to reports by ProPublica, the Times-Picayune and PBS Frontline, federal investigators also launched an inquiry into allegations that high-ranking officers in the NOPD gave orders authorizing police to shoot looters in the chaotic days after the hurricane .
In all, there are at least nine open federal investigations into misconduct by the NOPD, most dealing with incidents that took place after Katrina. So far, 16 NOPD officers have been charged. Another two have been charged in a case from July 2005.
TO and Ocho Cinco dig themselves into a deep one with this…
Even though Palin isn’t “Playboy Material” in their view…
They would rather see her in Playboy than the White House!
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