RSS

Tag Archives: Marie Gottschalk

NYC Activist Takes on Bill O’Reilly

This is a fun one. Bill the O’Bigot gets a lesson on stereotyping from New York Civil Rights Coalition president Michael Meyers. Michael Meyers called Bill O’Reilly and his network out to his face on Monday, accusing Fox News of engaging in a pattern of demonizing black men “You are painting black men as society’s moral monsters,” said Meyers…

Another Bill the Bigot lesson was given in December of last year by Russell Simmons on the show:

Simmons and Murray make a key point, thet the creation of the carceral state more than any other cause is the source of many maladies affecting poor black communities – Best summed up in Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics, by Marie Gottschalk and described in this review

 Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics – Pathology of the Carceral State

For 40 years now the United States has been creating a vast and unprecedented carceral machine. Its size and reach stagger the imagination: jails and prisons, immigration detention and deportation centers, parole and probation offices, digital, electronic, and human surveillance. Its human costs are enormous — federal and state prisons and jails hold over 2 million people in custody at any time; if you include those under parole, probation, or other forms of government surveillance for crime the number exceeds 8 million. Tens of millions of Americans have some form of criminal record. Their families are drawn in to the reach of the carceral state along with them. In global terms the United States stands alone. It has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Its penal practices are brutal compared to Europe. It deepens the racial divide in the country. It distorts the economy and polity. Above all it degrades lives and the country as a whole.

To understand this machine means holding a series of seemingly contradictory notions at once. Mass incarceration extends long-standing tendencies in American penal history while being a bold departure from previous practice; it has at its core a system of racial subordination, although race is now arguably less important than previously; it has marked an expansion in state power but is driven in important ways by the search for private profit; it is an instrument of law and order that operates in arbitrary and uncontrolled ways. Incarceration, originally justified as a defense of human dignity against the bodily brutality of ancien regime punishments, has now become the site of physical and psychological torture. And there is no end in sight to either mass incarceration or the wounds it imposes on human beings and American society…

The broad history of mass incarceration is well known. Prior to the 1980s the size and reach of imprisonment in the United States was not significantly different from its western European counterparts. For most of the 20th century the United States sent slightly more than 100 per 100,000 people to prison. (That number is now over 500 in prison and over 700 if you include jails.) The death penalty had been in long secular decline and the Supreme Court suspended it in 1972. Courts began to take steps to ensure minimal constitutional standards for prisons and protections for prisoners. Serious criminological and legal opinion believed that there was a real possibility that the prison would soon fade away.

Of course past is not always prologue. At precisely the moment when the country’s use of imprisonment appeared to face the possibility of serious reduction, states began a new expensive spree of prison construction. In 1976 the Supreme Court approved the restart of the death penalty. A bipartisan move toward determinate sentences (supported by liberals who thought it would curb the arbitrary authority of prison officials and by conservatives who aimed to curb the power of judges), combined with increasing lengths in mandated sentences, helped trigger vast expansion. Prison officials drew upon fears of riots and “revolutionary” inmates such as California’s George Jackson to justify intensified control over their prisons and increased use of solitary confinement. In the early 1980s the “war on drugs” took off and with it not only a rise in the size of the federal prison system but also the exacerbation of extreme racial inequities in sentences and prosecutions…

These developments, to be sure, did not emerge out of thin air. Instead they built upon initiatives begun earlier under the Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations. In particular Johnson’s signing of 1968’s Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act dramatically increased federal engagement with local policing and punishment. One effect of the act was to encourage the growing militarization of police forces, primarily through the Law Enforcement and Assistance Administration. Johnson and his allies may have thought that by imposing new federal standards they would help protect minorities from local abuses (as well as preempt more radical conservative proposals) but as Naomi Murakawa has argued, this liberal emphasis on procedure and uniform standards helped legitimate the idea that new regulations could justify and control the expansion of the prison state. As the continual revelations of prison abuses show, this hope was a false one…(…More…)

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Domestic terrorism

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: