"The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse." -- James Madison - (1751-1836)

"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force. " :
Ayn Rand in "The Nature of Government"

"Throughout history there have been tyrants and murderers. And for a while they seem invincible, but always they fall. Always."-Mahatma Gandhi

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all -- the apathy of human beings: Helen Keller

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is , more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime ; he is a good citizen driven to despair.--H.L Mencken

"When even one American-who has done nothing wrong-is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth-then all Americans are in peril" Harry S. Truman

"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."- Winston Churchill, Nov. 21, 1943

"When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed: Ayn Rand - (1905-1982) Author - Source: Atlas Shrugged, Francisco's "Money Speech"

"Loss of freedom seldom happens overnight. Oppression doesn't stand on the doorstep with toothbrush moustache and swastika armband -- it creeps up insidiously...step by step, and all of a sudden the unfortunate citizen realizes that it is gone." ~ Baron Lane

U.S. Constitution - R.I.P.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Incarceration Nation: The Rise of a Prison-Industrial Complex, by Andrew Bosworth

"I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator" -Mother Jones

Consider this disturbing fact: the United States now has the world's highest incarceration rate outside of North Korea. Out of 1,000 people, more Americans are behind bars than anywhere in the world except in Kim Jong-Il's Neo-Stalinist state. The US has a higher incarceration rate than China , Russia, Iran, Zimbabwe and Burma - countries American politicians often berate for their human rights violations.

Well over two million Americans are behind bars. Let us agree that violent criminals and sex offenders should be in jail, but most Americans are not aware that over one million people spend year after year in prison for non-violent and petty offenses: small-time drug dealing, street hustling, prostitution, bouncing checks and even writing graffiti. Texas, with its boot-in-your-butt criminal justice system, is now attempting to incarcerate people who get drunk at bars - even if they are not disturbing the peace and intend to take a taxi home.

Somewhere along the line, the Lone Star State becomes the Lock-Down State: Rodney Hulin, a 16 year old in Texas, was caught setting a dumpster on fire and sentenced to 8 years in an adult prison. Despite pleading to be removed to another section, prison officials found no reason to extract him from the general population (despite Rodney's official pleas). He was then repeatedly raped and infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS. He ended the nightmare by hanging himself in his cell...

Just why is the system so eager to lock up American citizens for so incredibly long for minor crimes? Perhaps one would think it a misguided attempt to make our streets safer. Or perhaps the more cynical would consider the political mileage these folks get out of a tough on crime image. Well, while political gain is certainly a factor, financial considerations are by far the greatest influence. As the old saying goes, follow the money...straight back to the corrupt politicians who claim to represent the people.

The Founding Fathers would be rolling in their graves even faster than they already are if they knew that prisons are now lucrative corporations. These "McJails" receive money from government on a per-prisoner, per-day basis. No doubt, had the framers of the Constitution imagined that future Americans could descend to such depths they would have banned the commercialization of prisons outright.

Not surprisingly, the executives of these for-profit prisons sponsor "tough-on-crime" legislation and even line the pockets of politicians who back "mandatory sentencing" laws. For-profit prisons even get to write new mandatory sentencing laws to guarantee the raw material (the rabble of society) for an emerging prison-industrial complex.

In a Great Leap Backward, American politicians have also repealed two federal laws (the Hawes Cooper Act and the Ashurst-Sumner Act) that virtually outlawed prison labor, making it a felony to move prison-made goods across state boundaries. Stamping state license plates for cars was generally acceptable, but these Acts tried to end the leasing out of prisoners to private companies - they tried to eliminate prison-plantations and "factories with fences."

And, to make it even better, a vast number of these prisoners in the corporate gulag system have never had their cases heard by a jury of their peers as the United States Constitution calls for, they are coerced into accepting plea deals. How many people are railroaded into these for profit forced labor hell holes because they cannot afford adequate legal representation and are bullied into pleading to something they did not do?

Of course, we'll never know how many prisoners are even guilty. They have been locked up through mass "plea bargaining" agreements. Originally conceived a the exception to the rule, plea bargaining has become a conveyor belt for prisons, running against the grain of the Fifth Amendment's right to a fair trial and, more specifically, to the US Constitution, Article III, Section 2: "The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury."

While might be a time and a place for plea bargaining, it has become a scam in which prisons are basically guaranteed a minimum flow of prisoners. Here's the deal: Plead guilty to a lesser crime (to something you might not have done) and go to jail for 3 years - or risk a trial and the chance of doing 15 years. It's a no-brainer.

While many have the image in their heads of the prisoner who lives well on the taxpayer dime, meals and housing provided, relaxing in front of the cable TV, the reality is much different than the propaganda machine would have you believe. Prisoner abuse and torture was not invented by American guards in Iraq....rather a homegrown talent, exported from the prisons back home.

Oh...and lets not forget the added benefit of conditioning citizens to accept storm-trooper style police action on the streets...all for our own good of course....to protect and serve, right?

No comments:

The Militarization of Our Police