Amerika Is Addicted And Dependent On Slavery


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The prison industry in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery? The prison industry in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery? by Vicky Pelaez Human rights org…anizations, 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. During the post-Civil War period, Jim Crow racial segregation laws were imposed on every state, with legal segregation in schools, housing, marriages and many other aspects of daily life. “Today, a new set of markedly racist laws is imposing slave labor and sweatshops on the criminal justice system, now known as the prison industry complex,” comments the Left Business Observer. Who is investing? At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum. And in privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call “highly skilled positions.” At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month. Thanks to prison labor, the United States is once again an attractive location for investment in work that was designed for Third World labor markets. A company that operated a maquiladora (assembly plant in Mexico near the border) closed down its operations there and relocated to San Quentin State Prison in California. In Texas, a factory fired its 150 workers and contracted the services of prisoner-workers from the private Lockhart Texas prison, where circuit boards are assembled for companies like IBM and Compaq. [Former] Oregon State Representative Kevin Mannix recently urged Nike to cut its production in Indonesia and bring it to his state, telling the shoe manufacturer that “there won’t be any transportation costs; we’re offering you competitive prison labor (here).” PRIVATE PRISONS The prison privatization boom began in the 1980s, under the governments of Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., but reached its height in 1990 under William Clinton, when Wall Street stocks were selling like hotcakes. Clinton’s program for cutting the federal workforce resulted in the Justice Departments contracting of private prison corporations for the incarceration of undocumented workers and high-security inmates. Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison industry complex. About 18 corporations guard 10,000 prisoners in 27 states. The two largest are Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut, which together control 75%. Private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner, independent of what it costs to maintain each one. According to Russell Boraas, a private prison administrator in Virginia, “the secret to low operating costs is having a minimal number of guards for the maximum number of prisoners.” The CCA has an ultra-modern prison in Lawrenceville, Virginia, where five guards on dayshift and two at night watch over 750 prisoners. In these prisons, inmates may get their sentences reduced for “good behavior,” but for any infraction, they get 30 days added – which means more profits for CCA. According to a study of New Mexico prisons, it was found that CCA inmates lost “good behavior time” at a rate eight times higher than those in state prisons. IMPORTING AND EXPORTING INMATES http://www.reunionblackfamily.com/apps/blog/show/9989931-the-prison-industry-in-the-united-states-big-business-or-a-new-form-of-slavery

33 thoughts on “Amerika Is Addicted And Dependent On Slavery

  1. Pingback: Amerika Is Addicted And Dependent On Slavery: 62,000 prison inmates | lara

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  3. Inmates are human capital when housed in private prisons–it is that simple. To ensure the continued flow of this human capital, priacte prisons spend millions annually to lobby for stricter laws with longer sentencing, with hopes prison overcrowding will continue and states will continue to contract with them to house this overflow of inmates. They are currently leading the charge for tougher immigration laws. I can’t imagine why…

    Its a damn shame.

    • well said. But what u must remember that there are over 100 political prisonerz here on amerikan soil that many of them have served over 25 yearz with no chance of parole 4 amerikkkk and it’z racist government still fearz them yet they need our help and support. Panther Love

  4. It seemed like the gains of the Civil Rights Movement lasted about five minutes before the window of opportunity slammed shut again – and the backlash began. Boy, did it begin!
    But wait! This time was different. This time millions of white allies had only recently proclaimed themselves transformed and had pledged their permanent commitment to racial equity.
    Wait! Where are they all going? Hello?
    I guess we won’t be singing Kumbaye and linking arms again any time soon.
    They had their Defining Generational experience, and then left Black Americans to deal with their own:a new drug called crack being pumped into communities along with truckloads of guns. What the hell kind of “dialogue” do whites expect to have following a betrayal of such dimensions?
    Action, not discussion!

    • U are correct that action iz needed, It iz time 4 tha men and women 30 and under to stand up and step up az did tha ancestorz. During thalate and 70’z I right there with my parentz at ralliez and meeting on a daily basis at Black Panther Party headquarterz in L.A. and then attending Sitting and talking to tha late great Cesar Chavez a family friend when he would be in L.A. I have a 4 year old grand-daughter that iz a revolutionary in training.

      • Oh, Im really sorry – I never meant that African-Americans should stop or start discussions – or anything else, for that matter. I only meant that we’re finally going to drive the entire nation crazy if we don’t shut up now. Our professed ignorance is nothing but a shameless delaying strategy. We know exactly what’s going on.
        I recognize in your blog what can be the hardest work a revolutionary ever does – that you work for the people is evident in your focus, and in your historical perspective w its local connection. Please send me all the white hate letters you receive without even opening them, that is if you ever decide to. I know how to handle ‘em,
        Thank-you for the work you do for me. I appreciate – no, I salute you.:

      • I understood what u meant. See what tha world do not realize iz that there are Afrikan-Amerikanz and there iz tha Nu-Afrikanz who are conscious and trying to open tha eyez and earz of tha unconscious black folkz and trying to teach everyone else tha true and divine history (our story) and show tha ancestorz tha respect and honour that they are due. My grand baby hangz out with me when I am doing research and teaching her at tha same time with video’s and speech’s and she even distributes reading material in tha neighborhood with me. Panther Love komade

      • I had a blacktastic life growing up but I waz taught tha realitiez of life in amerika. When I waz 8 or 9 yearz I knew I waz going to grow up and join tha party. Tha funny thing iz I want my grandbaby to have fun but she choosez to go with me when I am out distributing cd’z and imformation or teaching some of tha older neighborhood children, she keepz them in check they call her tha boss lady.

      • Wow. At the risk of making myself sound bad, she is more thoughtful at 4 than I think I’ve ever been in my whole life. Y’all are raising a true little revolutionary (-:

      • Thank u she started earlier than we anticipated but it iz a good thing. She iz a special little lady and haz a bright future ahead of her and some great teacherz to guide her.

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  6. I know there has been, is now, and will always be corruption in American government. Big corporation is full of corruption also. I hope you will remember that the average American just wants equal treatment for all people. As a Caucasian, I can say that I don’t feel there is anyone beneath me. We should all be judged by our actions.
    It is a fine line between teaching a child to stand up for her rights and hating those she perceives to be keeping her down. I pray your granddaughter understands that not all white people are like those in power. There are those of us who believe we can all live together equally.
    There are many things each of us can do to make our own community a better place to live. If we join together, instead of pulling apart, we can all advance further in life. We especially need to join together in the fight against a government bleeding us to death with taxes and big corporation raising prices until we can’t afford to feed our families.

    • Now az far az my grand-daughter iz concerned she iz and never will be taught to hate anyone. Lil momma iz being raised to know how great her ancestorz were and the trialz and tribulationz and tha realtiez of being nu-afrikan living in amerika. I grew up around revolutionariez and activistz of all colourz and lil momma iz being raised tha same way. Panther Love

      • Az lil momma likez to say Panther Love. She understandz it to mean to love and protect all oppressed people of tha world no matter what nationality that they might be just az tha Black Panther Party taught all it’z memberz. But amerika’z government did all that waz dirty, and committed outright murder to discredit and destroy tha black power movement because it waz not just about uplifting black people but waz about defending all poor and oppressed people tha world over so it made them a threat to tha amerikan way of life.
        And myself and so many other panther cubz (children of pantherz) continue tha legacy to fight tha powerz that be.

      • It iz my duty and an honour to continue tha struggle just az my ancestorz have done 4 over 500 yearz and to know that my grand-daughter iz taking up tha banner az a revolutionary in training. Panther Love

  7. I once read an article about prisons in the state of Louisiana, in the US of A, that opened my eyes about the abusive nature of their penitentiary system. Prisons = endless stream of workers without rights or hope of betterment. You’re right to use the term “slaves” to describe their situation. Open the eyes of all. I scream sometimes out of frustration for all to ” Wake up and act up,” before we all become apathetic slaves of this society.

  8. Good morning. This is well done. Congratulations! I knew about the companies running prisons now. I am not sure about the rightness or wrongness of labor. If someone has committed a crime especially a violent one or one with a gun they need to pay. Maybe it is that I am getting old but, people make a choice to commit a crime. They are not forced into it. From another perspective, not all Americans have the same opportunities. I did not for instance. Yet, millions of Americans of all colors have risen up and made their opportunity. I worked in Domestic Violence, Rape Crisis, and other non- profits for so long that I have seen it happen many, many times. I do think some of the drug laws are too severe and need to be changed. On the other hand, I think all sexual predators should be put in.a penal colony in Antarctica and left there for the rest of there lives. Our world would be much safer for women and children. Napoleon was put on a deserted island and left there. He is buried there. I an not saying you are wrong or I an right. I an just dialoguing with you. Hugs and peace, Barbara

    • Every human being deservez a second chance and all have to do iz look at tha time that some of our political prisonerz have spent behind tha wallz and barbed wire fencez. Panther love

      • A very good point my friend. I believe in second chances. But they have to change. Find legal ways to protest and bring about change. Ghandi did it and Martin Luther also. I will pray for prisoners. And you my friend. Hugs, Barbara

      • Bad thingz happen to good people. We learn from life experiencez and make changez accordly. No violence doez not alwayz bring about change. Truth be told u can not compare Ghandi and what he did in india and M. L. K. and what he did here in tha amerikka’z especially when u consider that tha my ancestorz were being murdering almost daily just 4 being nu-afrikanz and wanting equal justice, equal housing and respect. Till tha likez of Malcolm X and tha BPP came along and said we will fight violence with violence to protect their (our) own.
        Amerika haz proven time and time again that whwn it can have thingz done tha way tha way that they like, then they have no problem sending in a hit man or a squad to to take someone out to get what they want.

      • Good morning my friend. Ghana and MLK both fought racism. They did it in different ways, but they both took on the pain and suffering go their people and changed history. Hugs, Barbara

      • Bro. Min waz putting in work and tha truth be told M.L.K. waz putting in work here in tha amerik’z like Minister Malcolm. That iz tha real. Minister Malcolm can be left out tha picture az much az so many would like to do. Panther Love

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