Is Mass Incarceration Simply Racist Subjugation in the Age of Surplus Humanity?

Before mass incarceration there was Jim Crow. Before Jim Crow there was slavery.

What distinguishes mass incarceration from the American subjugation schemes it replaced? The distinction, I submit, is obvious and identifies the real obstacle in the path of addressing what has become a clear moral imperative. No sane American supports current levels of incarceration. No sane American seeks to dispute the racism so obviously embedded in America’s system of mass incarceration. Why, then, has there been virtually no progress on this front? 

Consider what would happen to the employment numbers if 80% of America’s incarcerated population were suddenly released. Many of the previously incarcerated would enter the job market, but the uptick in unemployment wouldn’t end there. Guards and other employees of the bloated prison system suddenly would be seeking new work, as would those employed by contractors to prison system now peddling a wide variety of services to prisoners and their families at obscenely bloated prices.

What would happen if the health insurance industry were scrapped in favor of medicare for all? Truth is, an industry based on making a profit by denying medical care to its customers creates lots more jobs than does government-run health care.

How many jobs would vanish if America’s global military presence were pared back?

In America, we may have something that seems like reasonably full employment, but it’s full employment based on manufactured jobs that really aren’t necessary. This is what astonishing advances in technology bring under a system of insufficiently constrained capitalism: A surplus of humanity.

Which is what distinguishes mass incarceration from Jim Crow and slavery. Used to be that white America needed to steal or underpay for black labor to make its economy work. No longer. So, subjugation systems designed to exploit black labor have been replaced with one that primarily removes them from society in large numbers. Although there also is a remaining element of labor exploitation (many prisoners work at slave wages), that is incidental. The essence of mass incarceration is the removal from society, not the theft of labor. In a disgusting, immoral way, it’s actually a logical progression.

Huffington Post writer Antonio Moore captures this here:

The incarceration of young blacks is part of the reason the unemployment numbers fell under the Clintons. Effectively by incarcerating young black men they became an invisible population and no longer counted as unemployed, despite still being jobless behind bars. In addition, through their imprisonment jobs were created for officers, judges, prison guards and the like, in communities across the country.

In short, mass incarceration (mostly of blacks and Latinos) has been to America’s economy what cocaine is to a person’s feeling of well-being: an artificial stimulant. And as with cocaine, the addictive effect is undeniable. From Building a Prison Economy in Rural America, at prison policy.org:

During the last two decades, the large-scale use of incarceration to solve social problems has combined with the fall-out of globalization to produce an ominous trend: prisons have become a “growth industry” in rural America. Communities suffering from declines in farming, mining, timber-work and manufacturing are now begging for prisons to be built in their backyards. The economic restructuring that began in the troubled decade of the 1980s has had dramatic social and economic consequences for rural communities and small towns. Together the farm crises, factory closings, corporate downsizing, shift to service sector employment and the substitution of major regional and national chains for local, main-street businesses have triggered profound change in these areas. The acquisition of prisons as a conscious economic development strategy for depressed rural communities and small towns in the United States has become widespread. Hundreds of small rural towns and several whole regions have become dependent on an industry which itself is dependent on the continuation of crime-producing conditions. 

The bottom line: Beating our addiction to racist subjugation in the age of surplus humanity, like the recovery from any addiction, will involve short-term pain. The economies of small towns across America will suffer a devastating blow.

And therein lies the obstacle to addressing what we now all know is a moral imperative.

51 responses to “Is Mass Incarceration Simply Racist Subjugation in the Age of Surplus Humanity?

  1. Concerned Citizen

    Reconceptualizing the Eighth Amendment: Slaves, Prisoners, and ‘Cruel and Unusual’ Punishment by Alex Reinert :: SSRN 4/20/16
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2758342

    “The meaning of the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause has long been hotly contested. For scholars and jurists who look to original meaning or intent, there is little direct contemporaneous evidence on which to rest any conclusion. For those who adopt a dynamic interpretive framework, the Supreme Court’s “evolving standards of decency” paradigm has surface appeal, but deep conflicts have arisen in application. This Article offers a contextual account of the Eighth Amendment’s meaning that addresses both of these interpretive frames by situating the Amendment in eighteenth and nineteenth-century legal standards governing relationships of subordination. In particular, I argue that the phrase “cruel and unusual punishment” was intertwined with pre- and post-Revolutionary notions of the permissible limits on the treatment of slaves.

    The same standard that the Framers adopted for the treatment of prisoners in 1787 was contemporaneously emerging as the standard for holding slaveholders and others criminally and civilly liable for harsh treatment of slaves. Indeed, by the middle of the nineteenth century, constitutional law, positive law, and common law converged to regulate the treatment of prisoners and slaves under the same “cruel and unusual” rubric. Thus, when the Supreme Court of Virginia referred to prisoners in 1871 as “slaves of the State,” the description had more than rhetorical force.

    Going beyond the superficial similarity in legal standards, examining how the “cruel and unusual” standard was explicated in the context of slavery offers important insights to current debates within the Eighth Amendment. First, the contention by some originalists that the Punishments Clause does not encompass a proportionality principle is in tension with how courts interpreted the same language in the context of slavery. Indeed, relationships of subordination had long been formally governed by a principle of proportional and moderate “correction,” even though slavery in practice was characterized by extreme abuse. Second, to the extent that dynamic constitutional interpretation supports limiting criminal punishment according to “evolving standards of decency,” the comparative law frame used here raises questions as to how far our standards have evolved. This, in turn, should cause commentators and jurists to reconsider whether the twenty-first century lines we have drawn to regulate the constitutional bounds of punishment are adequate to advance the principle of basic human dignity that is thought to be at the heart of the Eighth Amendment.”

  2. Concerned Citizen

    Crime in 2015: A Final Analysis | Brennan Center for Justice
    https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/crime-2015-final-analysis

    “The 2015 murder rate rose by 13.3 percent in the 30 largest cities, with 19 cities seeing increases and 6 decreases. However, in absolute terms, murder rates are so low that a small numerical increase can lead to a large percentage change.

    Final data confirm that three cities (Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.) account for more than half (244) of the national increase in murders. While this suggests cause for concern in some cities, murder rates vary widely from year to year, and there is little evidence of a national coming wave in violent crime. These serious increases seem to be localized, rather than part of a national pandemic, suggesting that community conditions remain the major factor. Notably, these three cities all seem to have falling populations, higher poverty rates, and higher unemployment than the national average. This implies that economic deterioration of these cities could be a contributor to murder increases.

    The new figures are an update to a Brennan Center November 2015 report, Crime in 2015: A Preliminary Analysis, authored by a team of economists and legal researchers. That report found similar conclusions. The Brennan Center also released a near-final update of the numbers in December 2015.”

  3. John Huppenthal

    On the surface, our incarceration rate of 1,090 inmates per 100,00 population looks to be the 7th highest in the nation. However, nationwide, Hispanics have an incarceration rate of 1,775 per 100,000 and 31 % of our adults are Hispanics. When you adjust for demographics, our incarceration rate is almost exactly the national average.

    But, look at New York. They have a population that is more at-risk than Arizona. Yet, they have an incarceration rate which is about 1/3 of what you would predict.

    All of this New York success comes, not from releasing anyone from prison, but from reducing crime.

    And, you can trace the root cause of that crime reduction not to any policy like broken windows policing which was there but not a root cause, but to one human being: Bill Bratton.

    When the whole New York system was transferred lock, stock and barrel to other cities, it didn’t work.
    But, as you dissect the Bratton system, it had one piece that no one identified as part of the system: accountability. All of his commanders were gone after the first year, either promoted up or fired.

    When you have a $200,000 per year pension on the line, that is major motivation. That piece relied totally on the strength of personality of Bratton and his judgement about relative performance. That was not movable and was never identified as a piece of the system.

    However, you can systematize accountability, it is just very tricky. No one ever gets it right in the public sector. It almost always backfires. We are limited by the IQ of policy makers.

    • Concerned Citizen

      Accountability and who should be held accountable: There needs to be accountability for prosecutors, who have none. The prosecutors have no oversight, no transparency and no accountability. And, the prosecutors have absolute immunity. How is that a fair and balanced justice system? It’s time to restore presumption of innocence (which Victim’s Rights has decimated) and due process. It’s long overdue to reform Arizona’s draconian mandatory minimum sentencing, where non-violent offenders are given defacto-life sentences. The laws are getting harsher and depriving people of their rights. We all know that. Where’s that discussion?

  4. Concerned Citizen

    “How a 26-year-old white woman died a horrible death in an American jail” | The Week 4/19/16 http://bit.ly/1S8mDhH

    “The criminal justice system is the bedrock of American government. But without a genuine respect for due process, and proper funding thereof, it can become a brutal micro-tyranny.”

  5. Concerned Citizen

    AZ DOC fires 13 officers for not doing their jobs | KSAZ 4/14/16
    http://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/arizona-news/122727446-story

    PHOENIX (KSAZ) – “The video evidence is damning, in a clip taken at Perryville women’s prison in August shows a corrections officer looking into the cell of 25-year-old Cynthia Apkaw, a woman serving time for aggravated assault. The officer sees Apkaw hanging from the ceiling where she used a bed sheet and tied it to an overhead vent, something that patrolling corrections officers should have seen happening, but they didn’t, because they were not there.

    The video shows them running panicked into the picture at right, it was summer time, and it was hot, at least six of them were inside an air-conditioned command center instead of watching the inmates.” …

  6. Concerned Citizen

    In response to John Huppenthal’s comments: http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2010/11/arizona-mandatory-sentencing-laws-targeted.html

    “Arizona mandatory-sentencing laws targeted” November 18, 2010

    “The title of this post is the headline of this article about a debate over budget-driven sentencing reform talk among legislators in Arizona. Here are excerpts:

    A GOP lawmaker on Wednesday vowed to propose legislation next year that would give Arizona judges more discretion when sentencing criminals, but another promised to block it.

    Rep. Cecil Ash, R-Mesa, who chairs a state legislative committee studying prison sentencing, said the bill would seek to loosen mandatory-sentencing laws, provide more just punishment and save Arizona money. Mandatory-sentencing laws adopted in the 1990s in Arizona and across the nation have “tied the hands of judges” and left Arizonans paying millions of dollars to imprison non-violent criminals, he said….

    Growth in the inmate population has made the state’s prison system Arizona’s third-largest expense behind education and health care, Ash said. According to a Department of Corrections analysis, Arizona’s prison population is roughly 10 times bigger than it was 30 years ago.

    Ash said Arizona had surpassed many states’ incarceration rates. “With a population of roughly 6.5 million, we have over 40,000 inmates,” Ash said. “The state of Washington, with a population slightly larger than Arizona, has roughly 18,000.”

    Ash cited the state’s budget crisis as reason for looking for ways to decrease spending in the state’s corrections system. “I think we can make some improvements that ensure public safety,” he said. “The purpose isn’t to let people out of prison early; the purpose is to stop wasting resources.”

    But fellow GOP lawmaker Sen. Ron Gould, the incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday that Ash’s bill would “never see the light of day.” Gould heads the committee that the bill would likely be assigned to.

    “Just because he’s a member of my party . . . it’s not getting my support,” Gould said. “It’s beyond a money issue. It’s a principal issue. I think I have the support of 21 (Senate) Republicans who are not going to allow (for) letting criminals out early.”

    The attitudes and rhetoric used by state Senator Gould here presents the critical impediment to cost-effective sentencing reforms. I remain hopeful that tea-party types will generally not tolerate politicians placing off-limits entirely cuts in the third-biggest government expense, but this article again highlights the reality that many readily assert that fiscally conservative cuts should not be made to any big government criminal justice expenditures.”

    November 18, 2010 at 08:48 AM | Permalink

    • Concerned Citizen

      missing link: “Arizona mandatory-sentencing laws targeted” | Arizona Republic Nov. 18, 2010 http://bit.ly/1YDAkpo

    • John Huppenthal

      This whole discussion is a major separation from reality. Until the 1960’s Great Society, Blacks were on a steady march towards equality with whites and they were achieving that equality through family formation and education. The Great Society ended all that with a massive program of dependency and family destruction. Imprisonment hasn’t destroyed black culture, dependency on welfare and the associated loss of family structure has.

      The research is clear, there are huge dependency effects associated with welfare and these dependency effects are destructive to family formation and work ethic.

      After 55 years of Great Society, we are reaping a horrible result.

      • Well said, John! Unfortunately, it will fall on deaf ears.

      • Concerned Citizen

        Reality….. The Unbearable Whiteness of Brunch: Fighting Gentrification in Chicago | Truthout 4/20/16 http://bit.ly/1XJkfhF

        “Much like the prison industrial complex, gentrification does not exclusively ensnare the community that displacement practices arose to oppress, but this should not prevent us from understanding who these practices were developed to control and destroy. If we are to understand prisons in the context of slavery and anti-Blackness, and displacement in the context of Native genocide and forced relocation, we must also understand these tools as dynamic. The prison industrial complex and displacement policies are both manufactured and monetized in a variety of ways. It is important that we not allow the tentacles and branding of their harms to distract from what they are: pillars of white supremacy.”

        • Honest to goodness, CC, it is not neccessary that you quote from books instead of answering for yourself. Quoting authors doesn’t make you better read, more literate or smarter than anyone else. It just means you have limited yourself to reading authors that agree with you. I would rather hear what YOU have to say than read some other guys opinion who took the time to write a book pretending he was an authority.

          • Concerned Citizen

            Steve, No one cares about your opinion or my opinion. Notable scholars, authors and experts on the subject, provide the factual and empirical studies that all should want to learn about — our reality, not the politician and media spin (propaganda) fed to the masses.

          • On blogs like this, the most boring and least read posts are the one that cut and paste other articles or quotes from books. What people ARE interested in is personal opinions. As I have said several times, we can all find articles and books that support our positions. So, I disagree with you about the need to post quotes so frequently. So, I like to hear what YOU hace to say, BUT I won’t mention it to you again.

        • By the way, CC, why does someone being white bother you so bad. You are just expressing a form of racism. Are you a racist?

  7. I would only take issue with the use of the expression “only sane people” and related terms thereof.

    Sanity (or similar characterizations) would only come into play if every American was cognizant of and understood the data.

    Bill Clinton demonstrated the problem of manipulating public opinion when recently he chided Black Lives Matter protesters who got on his case about the crime bill he signed into law.

    Not enough people are aware of the problem. And the Clintons are notorious for playing propaganda games to gaslight those who try to be aware of public policy issues that throw light on Clinton problems.

    • Concerned Citizen

      AE, Reposting this here since it will answer the Bill Clinton / Black Lives Matter discussion. Neither were right …“Bill Clinton Is Wrong About His Crime Bill. So Are the Protesters He Lectured.” – The New York Times http://nyti.ms/1S9Yhmy

      “Meanwhile, as the vestigial Violent Crime Act gets all this attention, no one is debating two worrisome Clinton-era criminal-justice laws that remain on the books. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (A.E.D.P.A.) continues to make it hard for capital and noncapital inmates alike to raise habeas corpus claims and challenge wrongful incarcerations. And the Prison Litigation Reform Act (P.L.R.A.) still makes it much harder for inmates to challenge intolerable prison conditions in federal court. These laws’ impact on the narrow issue of mass incarceration is unclear, but they matter — and they remain relatively invisible. If we want to debate the Clinton legacy, we should at least debate the parts of it that are still in effect today.” ….

      “By and large, mass incarceration has been driven by state and local officials, and by county prosecutors in particular. As the 1994 act makes clear, federal efforts to influence those officials can be ineffective. It’s likely that federal efforts to reduce state prison populations would be similarly disappointing.”

  8. John Huppenthal

    Little bit of a discrepancy between the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and The Arizona Department of Public Safety Annual Crime Report.
    DPS Annual report says 276 murders for 2014
    UCR reports 319 murders for 2014 for a rate of 4.7 per 100,000

    The number one claim still holds because it was based on comparing UCR rates, but a mystery over these different numbers. The 463 appears to be a bit lower too.

    The Juvenile numbers are Department of Justice.

  9. John Huppenthal

    From 1992 to 2012, murders by juveniles in Arizona declined from 70 to 7.

    Just takes your breath away.

    From 2006 to 2014, murders in Arizona declined from 463 to 267.

    With a 38% reduction in its murder rate, Arizona ranked number one in the nation for reducing murders for that period.

    Just takes your breath away.

    Damn that corrupt legislature.

    • Concerned Citizen

      John Huppenthal, What was the arrest rate of juveniles during this time period? How did the school-to-prison pipeline contribute to decimating one or two generations of youth? 20,000 children in Foster care/CPS? How many homeless children – 30,000? The legislature has failed the children and families of Arizona. Where is the Sentencing Reform after the public packed the hearing rooms under House Rep. Cecil Ash demanding meaningful sentencing and criminal justice reform that would have saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of $$$’s. The bills passed unanimously, only to die on the Rules Committee desk. People left thinking reform was on its way. That was 2009 and 2010. So who’s even working on this since Rep. Cecil Ash stepped down?

      • John Huppenthal

        The arrest rates for Juveniles went from 14,905 per 100,000 juveniles in 1992 to 5,323 per 100,000 in 2012. (Last year of publication by FBI arrest statistics).

        That is a pretty stunning number – a 64% reduction.

        As chairman of the judiciary committee I did a major prison reform legislation that was attacked by the so called tough on crime group. The difference between my approach and Cecil’s approach and the language of liberals is that my objective was to reduce crime and thereby reduce prison populations.

        In a fierce floor debate I was able to prove conclusively that my approach would reduce crime and prison populations and I was right. We had a huge increase in successful completion of probation and a huge reduction in kickbacks to prison. The numbers were so dramatic that we were accused of cooking the books.

        By comparison, we absolutely know what happens when you just reduce prison populations. Back in the 70’s a judge mandated the release of a large number of “non-violent” prisoners in Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado because of prison overcrowding. Normally, there are huge collinearity problems in correlating imprisonment with crime but the sudden released solved the collinearity problem. Rape, robbery, murder, car theft, burglary – they all popped by statistically significant numbers.

        The sweet spot is New York City. Massive reduction in crime under Bratton’s leadership (they bottomed out at just 35 murders between unrelated people – unbelievable) and a huge reduction in prison population. But, the loss of civil liberties in minority communities led to an all-out attack on the policing necessary to sustain the initiative. We still don’t know if Bratton will be able to sustain what he started.

        Our numbers here in Arizona are also eye popping and we did it by increasing civil liberties – everyone is allowed to carry a gun.

        • Concerned Citizen

          J.Huppenthal, Arizona increased civil liberties? Really? You might get your followers to believe you, but you lose your credibility with informed citizens when you make a false statement like “we did it by increasing civil liberties”. Arizona is known for taking peoples’ rights away, NOT increasing civil liberties.

    • Concerned Citizen

      If murders declined in the dates you state, then why was a new $50,000,000 Super Max prison approved and built, without public dialog, a needs request or impact studies? The few people who attended the committee meeting were told they could not sign into the kiosk or speak. The ADC director made his request, in less than a half hour it was approved. Gowan, Shooter and the “boys” were all seen laughing and celebrating with their lobbyists after the meeting outside the building. “just takes your breath away”!!

      • John Huppenthal

        On the surface, our incarceration rate of 1,090 inmates per 100,00 population looks to be the 7th highest in the nation. However, nationwide, Hispanics have an incarceration rate of 1,775 per 100,000 and 31 % of our adults are Hispanics. When you adjust for demographics, our incarceration rate is almost exactly the national average.

        But, look at New York. They have a population that is more at-risk than Arizona. Yet, they have an incarceration rate which is about 1/3 of what you would predict.

        All of this New York success comes, not from releasing anyone from prison, but from reducing crime.

        And, you can trace the root cause of that crime reduction not to any policy like broken windows policing which was there but not a root cause, but to one human being: Bill Bratton.

        When the whole New York system was transferred lock, stock and barrel to other cities, it didn’t work.
        But, as you dissect the Bratton system, it had one piece that no one identified as part of the system: accountability. All of his commanders were gone after the first year, either promoted up or fired.

        When you have a $200,000 per year pension on the line, that is major motivation. That piece relied totally on the strength of personality of Bratton and his judgement about relative performance. That was not movable and was never identified as a piece of the system.

        However, you can systematize accountability, it is just very tricky. No one ever gets it right in the public sector. It almost always backfires. We are limited by the IQ of policy makers.

  10. Bob, I think you have gone off the deep end in your assessment of incarceration of blacks in disproportionate numbers as being done to replace slavery and to keep unemployment number down. You ignore the fact that blacks commit crimes in disproportionate numbers. I realize it is comforting to blame it on racism, but there are legitimate real world reasons why things are as they are.

    • Tell you what, Steve. Look up the relative rates of marijuana use by whites and blacks and compare them to the relative rates at which prison or jail time is imposed on each group for marijuana possession. Then, compare the penalties imposed for crack cocaine, the form used mainly be blacks in the inner cities, to the penalties imposed for powder cocaine, the form favored by more affluent whites. When you’ve done that, maybe you’ll want to reconsider your comment.

      • First of all, Bob, let me apologize for the snarkiness of my earlier comment. I didn’t intend it to be that way, but in reading it, it came out the way. I am sorry about that.

        As far as the difference in incarceration rates for marijuana use is concerned, before I attributed it to racism, I would want to know what impact the abilty to pay for rehab diversion as an alternative to incareration had on the decision to send someone to jail or not before I attributed it to racism.

        Regarding the difference between powder cocaine and crack cocaine, I remember when crack cocaine first appeared it set off a panic and many legislatures (and Congress) passed special legislation providing more punitive sentencing guidelines for crack than powdered. Crack was considered instantly addictive and much more deadly than powdered cocaine and there was a hue and cry to punish dealers and users of the drug more harshly in order to discourage its sale, possession and use. I have no idea why crack is more prevalent in the inner cities and powdered is more suburban. I suppose someone knows why, but I don’t.

        I have suggested before, Bob, that you go on “ride alongs” with your local Police. Before my cancer, I did it regularly. I think you might find it eye opening. Or disheartening. I don’t know which. But either way I think you would find it interesting. I certainly think it would give you something to write about.

    • Concerned Citizen

      Steve, Folks need to out of their recliners and TV and READ, the real history of America rooted in slaveholders and slaves. Families torn apart and sold as chattel. Great wealth made off of the backs of slaves – men, women and children. Start with “Roots”, then “12 years a slave”, then jump to the Jim Crow era and read Michele Alexanders, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”. For Arizona read: “SUNBELT JUSTICE: Arizona and the Transformation of American Punishment” (see Abu Ghraib and Arizona’s role), then come back and make your comment.

      • A person would have to be an idiot not to realize that a portion of our national history is rooted in slavery with all that implies. The problem arises when some people begin to think that slavery is the TOTALITY of our national history. So many people have come to believe that United States history consists of nothing but sin, crime and offenses against man and nature that there is room left to see what has been done that was and is good.

        The point I am trying to make is if you spend all your time trying to see only the bad in life, and you seek out only those people and sources that support you negative views, then that becomes your world view. Once you have such a world view, it becomes virtually impossible to see anything that conflicts with that view, regardless of how obvious it may be.

        When I say blacks commit crimes far out of proportion to their representation in the population, that is a measurable fact. Bob Lord saw racism because of drug statistics (which I think are mitigated by other factors than racism) which I understand because a regretably significant portion of prisoners are incarcerated for drug offenses. But he didn’t discuss other crimes such as theft, burglary, assault, aggravated assault, rape and murder, for which blacks still commit a disproportionate percentage of crimes. It isn’t a matter of opinion…it is there in the statistics.

        • Concerned Citizen

          Steve, The dark side of America what brought us to the point of the mass incarceration of our people, with America “land of the free” being the #1 jailer is the world! A shameful statistic! There is nothing good about this for the men, women and children, families and their future when they have become the victims of what drives America’s mass industrial prison complex. How are people supposed to be happy and productive in a state like Arizona, where incarceration is valued more than education” That is the reality. There is nothing good about that except for the profiteers.

          This is a time for finding solutions and real leadership. Those who will move Arizona in a positive direction, away from entrenched injustice and self-destruction. It’s hard to escape the hatred, bigotry, racism and negativity Arizona represents, unless one has their head buried in the sand of ignorance.

        • Concerned Citizen

          correction: The dark side of America is the reality you want to ignore. What brought us to the point of the mass incarceration of our people making the U.S the #1 jailer in the world? A shameful statistic in America ‘land of the free” (a myth?). Nothing happy or positive comes out of a war on the people by their own government. It’s important to get our history straight.

        • Concerned Citizen

          “SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME” by Sam Pollard: Movies & TV 2012 | Amazon.com http://amzn.to/1NxOAKr
          Editorial Reviews
          “Slavery By Another Name challenges one of Americas most cherished assumptions the belief that slavery in the US ended with Abraham Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation by telling the harrowing story of how in the South, a new system of involuntary servitude took its place with shocking force.”

          The mass industrial prison complex America “the land of the free” grew our of slavery, i.e. “human trafficking” for $$$’s, known as today. The society has reaped by it sowed with the results of oppression, dehumanization and a set of privileges for some at the expense of the rest — what is often called the “others”.

          • That is the writers (and your) interpretation of events. It is not the truth…it is an expression of opinion. I don’t happen to agree. If I wrote a book on the subject expressing my opinion, it would have no more validity than your writer’s opinion. Or yours. Or mine.

  11. Concerned Citizen

    Like slavery, it’s about money and power. When this is what drives a capitalist society, when money means more than humanity, then we are reaping what we are sowing in the ongoing self-destruction of America “land of the free” and “home of the brave” (a myth?).

    The slaveholders were human traffickers, and its at the forefront today for money-grabbing federal grants and $$$’s. What has changed?

    • Concerned Citizen

      Private Prison Corporations Are Modern Day Slave Traders

      http://www.alternet.org/story/155199/private_prison_corporations_are_modern_day_slave_traders

      “For the last two years, the number of inmates held in state prisons has declined slightly, largely because the states are short on money. Crime, of course, has declined dramatically in the last 20 years, but that has never dampened the states’ appetites for warehousing ever more Black and brown bodies, and the federal prison system is still growing. However, the Corrections Corporation of America believes the economic crisis has created an historic opportunity to become the landlord, as well as the manager, of a big chunk of the American prison gulag.”

      • “Like slavery, it’s about money and power. When this is what drives a capitalist society, when money means more than humanity…”

        Yes, MONEY means more than humanity in the good ol’ US of A.

        That’s why we have mass incarceration. That’s why the dominant paradigm of American government is NEOLIBERALISM. Neoliberalism is the secular manifestation of the concept articulated in a New Testament bible verse, I Timothy 6:10.

        “For the LOVE of MONEY is the root of all evil…”

        I’m not saying anything about the validity or nonvalidity of any version of Christianity. But the insight in that one verse takes us to the bottom line root of our societal problems.

        I don’t believe we need any particular religion to fix it. But we have to fix it.

        That’s why, for me, it’s Bernie or Bust this year.

        • Concerned Citizen

          “SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME”. What you will not learn this in the classroom! By lettie on April 14, 2012. “The Emancipation Proclamation was primarily a military measure, freeing only those slaves held in the Confederate States. The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution officially outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. Farmers and businessmen needed to find replacements for the labor force once their slaves had been freed depriving Southern slaveholders of $2 billion in human property and ensuring the permanent freedom of more than 4 million in bondage. Convict leasing began in 1865 and ended in the last state, Alabama, in 1928. It was a system in which armies of free men, most were guilty of no crimes and entitled by law to freedom, were compelled to labor without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced to do the bidding of white masters through the regular application of extraordinary physical coercion. The sole aim of convict leasing was financial profit to the lessees who exploited the labor of the prisoners to the fullest, and to the government which sold the convicts to the lessees. It’s truly time that the truth be told. This DVD should be shown in every class room. A better perspective would be shown to African Americans if such truths were viewed on a worldwide scale.”

      • By the way, the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution does NOT outlaw slavery. It ONLY makes slavery subject to Congress and state legislatures.

        13th Amendment:

        Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

        Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.[

        • Concerned Citizen

          “except as a punishment for crime”… the phrase that led to taking down the freemen, criminalizing whatever so they could seize them, throw them in jail and “lease” them back to landowners. Paving the way for the mass industrial prison complex taking down all those they did not want or like in society, creating laws to do it. And think about who created those laws? That sets the base for where we find ourselves today. So much for “states rights” and “prison-state”.

    • Concerned Citizen

      ..”But, there is something even more horrifying than the moral turpitude of the prison capitalists. If private companies are allowed to own the deeds to prisons, they are a big step closer to owning the people inside them. Many of the same politicians that created the system of mass Black incarceration over the past 40 years, would gladly hand over to private parties all responsibility for the human rights of inmates.”

  12. Concerned Citizen

    “Bill Clinton Is Wrong About His Crime Bill. So Are the Protesters He Lectured.” – The New York Times http://nyti.ms/1S9Yhmy

    “Meanwhile, as the vestigial Violent Crime Act gets all this attention, no one is debating two worrisome Clinton-era criminal-justice laws that remain on the books. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (A.E.D.P.A.) continues to make it hard for capital and noncapital inmates alike to raise habeas corpus claims and challenge wrongful incarcerations. And the Prison Litigation Reform Act (P.L.R.A.) still makes it much harder for inmates to challenge intolerable prison conditions in federal court. These laws’ impact on the narrow issue of mass incarceration is unclear, but they matter — and they remain relatively invisible. If we want to debate the Clinton legacy, we should at least debate the parts of it that are still in effect today.” ….

    “By and large, mass incarceration has been driven by state and local officials, and by county prosecutors in particular. As the 1994 act makes clear, federal efforts to influence those officials can be ineffective. It’s likely that federal efforts to reduce state prison populations would be similarly disappointing.”

  13. Concerned Citizen

    “Why, then, has there been virtually no progress on this front?” All one has to do is look at the truths exposed with Trump, his racist and bigoted statements, and his scarry followers. This exposed the culture that dominates in Arizona and those who are in “control” of the broken criminal justice system (designed that way) – the prosecutors, judges (former prosecutors), lawmakers who are beholden to the private prison corporations and related specials interests. Where this unlike slavery, is funded by the taxpayers. Instead of a plantation, they own a “prison”.

    • Concerned Citizen

      Oppression, inhumanity, torture and violence are at the core of our American history, never taught in the schools, but emerging since 9/11. From slavery to Abu Ghraib torture and abuse. Human trafficking for $$$’s.

      American wardens/turned outside contractors setting up foreign prisons and coming back running prisons against its own people? Why were there never Congressional hearings on the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib? And where are we today? Since, we ignored what was being done in our name and with our tax dollars?

      Kids For Cash: Inside One of the Nation’s Most Shocking Juvenile Justice Scandals | Democracy Now!

      “Today a special on “kids for cash,” the shocking story of how thousands of children in Pennsylvania were jailed by two corrupt judges who received $2.6 million in kickbacks from the builders and owners of private prison facilities.”

      http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/4/kids_for_cash_inside_one_of

      It’s time to get out of the TV lounge chair listening to the talking heads and READ our real history, the one they do not want you to know.

  14. captain*arizona

    sheriff arpaio says he can put half of maricopa county in jail but only half as the other half have to pay for them.

  15. Three Sonorans

    China has way more people than the US, yet we have double their prison population.

    • China also has a lower crime rate than we do despite a far larger population.

      • AND they practice rapid execution of prisoners far more often than any other country on earth with keeps their prison population down.