PRIVATE PRISONS

Racism is alive and well in America. Now it is a criminal justice system that targets people of color. Mass incarceration provides a gigantic windfall for the private prison industry. While the nation’s unprecedented rate of imprisonment deprives individuals of freedom – wrests loved ones from their families, and drains the resources of governments, communities, and tax-payers – the private prison industry rakes in billions.
The United States imprisons more people – both per capita and in absolute terms – than any other nation in the world, including Russia, China, and Iran. Over the past four decades, imprisonment in the United States has skyrocketed, spurred by criminal laws that impose steep sentences and curtail the opportunity to earn probation and parole. The current incarceration rate disproportionately affects people of color.
You think that’s a crime? Oh, no. A crime is paying prisoners $1 a day to work, then charging them $5 a minute to make a call. A crime is creating dozens more rules for prisoners to abide by, then keeping them in prison 76% longer for the same crime than those in state or federal facilities.
If it looks like slavery, smells like slavery then it is slavery. It’s the new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where up to two 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 twenty-five cents an hour and refuse to work, they’re locked up in isolation cells.
Ninety-seven percent of federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes. More than half of the six hundred thousand inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Two-thirds of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. Sixteen percent of the country’s two million prisoners suffer from mental illness. The state and local police, and all the government agencies – INS, ICE, FBI, DEA, DHS, ATF – are involved in the game. More arrests mean their budgets increase each year: more manpower, more political clout.

My political commentary is meant to bring a heightened consciousness and real discussion to people intent on changing social, political, and economic conditions. Politics as usual is destroying our Democracy. Government corruption demands real political change, not just a new candidate in the old system. Political leadership only leads to self-serving agendas and self aggrandizement. Politicians eschew social causes for personal enrichment. Political power corrupt morality and rationality. The result is criminal behavior and Constitutional crimes.

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