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Writers' Post Network Blog: Police State in Industrial Prison, U.S.A

Posted on August 16, 2013 at 12:20 AM
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The Rise of the Police State In Industrial Prison, U.S.A
    

 

prwire.com - Corporate Prison


For most Americans, a police state refers to certain countries living under dictatorship or totalitarian regimes, such as China, Russia, North Korea, and Cuba. Americans have been trained to think of the concept of the police state to mean that group of countries and any other that the American government decides to add to the list. But, there is a minor problem. In totalitarian countries, the people are pretty much free to live their lives as they wish, so long as they stay out of the government business. Totalitarian states are by definition government whose
 primary objective is self-preservation and                                                                   Photo_pr.wire.com
perpetuation. And most Americans may be surprised to learn that citizens in 
those countries are never subjected to some of the government policies and police tactics that are described in this article.


Incarcerated Americans - Graph

America incarcerates more of its citizens than any country in the world. In fact, the U.S. has more prisoners than some countries have people. The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it incarcerates nearly 25 percent of the world’s prison population. To put this in perspectives, China’s population today is estimated at approximately 1.5 Billion people; India has a population of over 1.1 Billion, compared to the U.S. population of 309,349,689 Million, based on the 2010 Census.  Between 1970 and 2000, the U.S. prison industrial complex grew by more 1, 720,000 more prisoners to some astounding and indecent 3,000.000.000 prisoners. The growth rate in the incarceration of American is rooted in many evils, including old historical racist practices. The U.S. also has the undistinguished distinction of being among the small league of countries in the world with the death penalty, including Iran, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Sudan, Afghanistan, Congo, and some others in Asia and Africa. At the end, at the foundation of this grotesque, uncivilized, inhuman, and dishonorable State are what follows:

1. Puritanism Merged with Politics

The puritan elements that brought us slavery and have sought to cleanse society of everything that they perceived as being immoral or irreligious continue to play a major role in advocating for laws to isolate those who do not obey and live by their religious beliefs. In the 1990’s we had the moral majority with its sets of rules for Americans to follow, from how to raise children, to sex before marriage, to abortion, and religion. The Religious Right known in past decades as Christian Conservatives, Evangelical Christians, or yet again as Religious Fundamentalists, and now the Tea Party, have never ceased to lobby the government for legislation to enforce bible-based value and inject religious beliefs into the political system in an effort to impose that value system upon the rest of the country. They have consistently promoted policies to de-regulate corporations and to regulate entertainment and individual behavior. They want prayer in schools and other public places. In states where they have succeeded in electing legislative majorities, they have placed bans on abortion and gay marriage, and passed laws to commission more arrests, build more prisons, and hand more severe sentences for lesser offenses.                       
                                         Greedy Corporations in Collision with the Criminal Injustice System

Corporate Corrections of America

2. From Slavery to Segregation to Prison: Black Oppression Transitions

After slavery was abolished, America found a new system of oppression and new ways to extend disparities and mistreat its Black population. The system instituted separate-but- equal. During and post-slavery between, between 1600 and the 1950’s, America consistently demonized, dehumanized, and treated its Black citizens as dangerous undeserving others who should be extricated. Beginning in the 1960’s, the forces of oppression found new ways to oppress Black citizens, by passing new laws, many specifically targeted toward Blacks and designed to warehouse massive numbers of people. Blacks were targeted for policy changes in criminal justice on grounds that they are the root causes of all of the country’s social ills, including mental illness and other diseases, economic distress, political turmoil, and the degeneration of society at large. The Confederacy was on the move.

3. The Criminalizing of America                                                                               tumblr_Photo [Share]

In addition to this targeted program, conservatives groups banned together with corporations to develop brand new series of crimes. Various civil infractions were turned into criminal offenses overnight. This change was particularly acute in motor vehicle regulations where law enforcement had the most discretion and states began to train their eyes on motorists’ wallets to fill their coffers. Police officers hide underneath bushes and hung a top of tree branches to ensnare unsuspecting motorists. US citizens witnessed a bonanza of police arrests, criminalization, and a "prison boom." The construction of jails and prisons became the new “New Deal.” Police Departments around the country indulged and Democrats cowered. Hundreds of thousands of Americans packed courtrooms around the country each day increasing court revenue for the state giving more power to police. With vast discretionary power at their disposal and a boiler-plate of charges ranging from disorderly conduct, to being “uncooperative,” and “belligerent,” Police misconduct, abuse, and brutality, became rampant. Post 9/11, police departments became militarized and ever more powerful. Rather than using this power to protect Americans against enemies within, police deployed their increased power to turn millions of Americans into criminals. Prosecutors who had always enjoyed near absolute immunity, took advantage of this fiesta to use all tricks in the books and some not on the books to railroad people through the system. The Innocent Project has documented thousands of cases where people had been wrongfully convicted on false testimony by law enforcement or informants, mistaken identification, corrupt forensic evidence, coerced confessions, and incompetent counsel. Yet more people who are accused of crimes end up pleading guilty for fear that if they go on trial and found guilty, regardless of their innocence, they are likely to be handed a longer and more severe sentence. Today, aside from the millions in prison, millions more have either gone through the criminal justice system, are on probation, or have been given criminal records. Millions of White Americans also have been caught up in this exploitative and evil system of oppression and injustice. Unless, this trajectory is changed, in the next decades, most Americans will have a criminal record, or they will know someone who has been through the criminal justice system, or they will remain at risk of being charged with crime.


                                                                    4. The Cynical Tough-on Crime Political and Predatory Scheme
Graph of America's Prison Boom since President Nixon
Scholars Katherine Beckett and Theodore Sasson have documented and argued "that conservative politicians have worked for decades to alter popular perceptions of crime, delinquency, addiction, and poverty and to promote policies that involve 'getting tough' and 'cracking down.'" The role that conservatives in the Republican Party have played in the insidious policy of tough-on-crime and the prison boom can be traced back to the past ten presidential cycles. There is no doubt that this policy was particularly aimed at criminalizing and incarcerating Black Americans in mass. Conservative Rights are masters in using propaganda to shape public opinion for political gains. First, they released self-serving studies and statistics to show that Blacks commit most crimes, which is a myth. Then, they came up with slogans, such as Black-on-Black crimes, and practiced word association by continuously using crime in the same sentence with Blacks. In the 1988 elections, Republican candidate, George H. Walker Bush, took this racist movement to a higher level, by using a Black paroled Massachusetts prisoner, Willie Horton, as a symbol of crime in the country. For the past 40 years, Republicans have worked shamelessly to shape public's perception of crime as an evil brought onto society by the Black population. As part of this effort to get votes, Republicans made a double-play by working tirelessly to redirect State policy away from social welfare. 

5. The Failed Ploy Called the War on Drugs

The failed 40-year war on drugs was nothing but a stand in for a modern Jim Crow. According to published report, Blacks, who make up 13 percent of the U.S. population and 13 percent of drug users, get arrested 38 times for every 1 time a White person is arrested on drug offenses. After President Reagan escalated the so-called war on drugs in the 1980’s, the United States prison and jail population grew from 500,000 to over 2 million, a 150% increase. Blacks make up 59 percent of all those convicted of drug violations.  Compared to the rest of the population, Blacks are 10.1 times more likely than Whites to be sent to prison for violating drug laws. The same reports indicate that in that war against the people, 1 in every 100 American adults has put behind bars. In the past 30, years, drug arrests have more than tripled reaching more than 1.63 million arrests in 2010. More than four out of five of these arrests were for mere possession, and forty-six percent (750,591) were for simple marijuana possession.

The Prison Capital of the World - Louisiana6. ThePrivatization of U.S. Prisons

Today, nearly ten percent of US prisons and jails have been privatized. Wackwenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC) and Cornell Corrections, Inc. represent two of the largest prison contractors in the country. Other profiteers in the prison industrial complex include The GEO Group, and the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Together, these companies make billions of dollars in prison profits from prisoner labor. These predators have systematically corrupted the justice system and unleashed their greed for profit, ruining millions of lives, destroying families, and tearing the fabric of society. In the name of their bloody bottom line, these corporations have teamed up with groups, such as ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which is famous for promoting voter suppression laws, tax cut for corporations, and gun laws, such as stand-your-ground throughout the South. These companies have peddled their influence, and gamed and poisoned the system with proposals to buy prisons from money-strapped states. These companies operate American prisons like labor camps where prisoners work for 25 cents an hour to produce goods that are then shipped for sales all over the world.
                                                                       Photo_justice.org

U.S. Dept. of Justice
A New Shift in Politics and Policy Resulting from the 2008 Elections 

With the ruling of Judge Shira A. Scheindlin striking down the racist policies of stop-and-frisk that was put in place a decade ago by New York Mayor, Michel Bloomberg, and Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement of the Obama’s administration’s set of reform in the criminal justice system, major changes may be marching on. As the struggle to protect Civil Right and guarantee Due Process of lawfor all Americans marches on, the forces of repression switch the oppression machine to high gear. Many human rights groups, including the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU), Amnesty International, and other grassroots organizations and some segments of the media, have been at the vanguard of this fight, but the task is monumental. In addition to Scheindlin’s ruling on Monday and the Attorney General’s declaration of policy changes, the Civil Rights movement, which had been MIA for the past three decades, is showing some signs of revival. Except for a small remnant in the persons of the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson assisted by other pastors, Civil Rights movement through the 1980’s and the late 2000’s was splintered and nearly dismantled. The LGBT movement has broadened and strengthened the Civil Rights movement of today. However, more rights are at risks and even more are being violated every day. This requires continued vigilance and a working coalition. The country must capitalize on the progress that has been made by continuing to reject the conservative Right’s regressive agenda and move toward greater progress. The prison industrial complex may be last bastion, but it must be demolished.

Edward Snowden’s New Release - From Russia with Spite

Categories: Crime / Law Enforcement & Society

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