Only the most vile, degenerate and immoral person could feel good about the practice of for profit institutionalized slavery which dominated the southern economy for 300 years. What is even more unacceptable is that people who knew better, presumably Christian people with a conscience did little or nothing while evil was triumphing.
Today, America is witnessing the rebirth of institutionalized slavery within its borders and it is indeed a predominantly racist practice with Latinos and Blacks comprising the bulk of the new slaves. And we are also witnessing racist rates of incarceration within our juvenile justice system. This outrageous practice should be decried by every media outlet in the country, but this problem is all but ignored by the mainstream media (MSM). Why? Because the MSM is making money off of this unholy practice.
A Growing Customer Base
There are over two million inmates in American prisons, or one in 743 people. Communist China, which has five times the population of the United States, has 500,000 less inmates. The United States has only 5% of the world’s population, but has 25% of the world’s prison population.
In 1972, the U.S. had less than 300,000 inmates. By 1990, the incarceration rate had skyrocketed to one million and by today, the rate has more than doubled again. Again, I ask why? Because there is very big monied interests behind the growth industry of privatized prisons.
According to Charles Campbell, author of The Intolerable Hulks (2001), the privatization of the prisons movement has its origins in the Revolutionary War period. England began to put undesirables and prisoners in prison ships. The U.S. fully embraced the use of private prisons during the Reconstruction Period (1865-1876) in the south, following the Civil War. Plantation owners and business owners needed “free” replacements to compensate for the loss of their previous slave laborers. In 1868, convict leases were awarded to private business interests in order to bolster their labor workforce and the practice continued until the early 20th century.
Today, this practice has been taken over by private corporate interests who are increasingly taking over our prison system and this unholy practice is no less exploitative than the slave labor abuses of the past and as in all forms of slavery, it is being fueled by profit.
Prison for Profit
Did you know that in many states, privatized prisons are guaranteed 90% occupancy rates by the government?
According to the California Prison Focus “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 Impetus Behind the Prison Industrial Complex
According to public analysis from the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), the largest holder in Corrections Corporation of America is Vanguard Group Incorporated. Vanguard is a major player in controlling several media giants. Vanguard is the third largest holder in Viacom and AOL Time Warner. Vanguard is also the third largest holder in the GEO Group. The GEO group, second only in size to the CCA with regard to privatized prisons as it controls over 100 correctional facilities in the US, UK, Australia and South Africa. In addition to CCA’s unwarranted control over the media, the number-one holder of both Viacom and Time Warner is a company called Blackrock. Blackrock is the second largest holder in CCA, and the sixth largest holder in the GEO Group in this never-ending incestuous relationship.
The conclusion is inescapable. The people who control privatized prisons in the United States are also heavily vested in the media. This is why you don’t hear about the Prison Industrial Complex in the media and the installation of institutionalized slavery in our privatized prisons goes largely unreported in the media.
Vanguard Windsor II Investment Fund owns CCA. However, CCA is a minute part of the Vanguard Windsor II Funds. Vanguard Windsor is also invested in corporate giants like JP Morgan, IBM Pfizer and Conoco. This accounts for the Wall Street backing of privatized prisons and the subsequent lobbying for longer and stricter prison sentences which fuels this growth industry.
This makes the privatized prison industry a Wall Street backed growth opportunity.
Increasingly, the victims of this corrupt prison system are the youth of America.
Need A Job? Go to Prison, They’re Hiring
The Prison Industrial Complex is an impressive growth industry which is fueled by its Wall Street investors and leads to greatly overcrowded and inhumane prisons.
According to the Left Business Observer, the highly privatized federal prison industry produces “100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Thus, we see a partial marriage between private prisons and our government’s wars of occupation. Namely, prison slave labor is being used to produce the weapons and supplies of war.
America has found and antidote to the loss of manufacturing through the various free trade agreements (i.e. NAFTA, CAFTA). Unfortunately, prison slave labor is the solution. The Left Business Observer identifies private corporate interests benefiting from prison slave labor which includes the manufacturing of “93% of all 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.”
Go to School and End Up In Prison
There are almost 75,000 juveniles in prison and the rates are skyrocketing because of a phenomenon that is now being referred to as the school to prison pipeline in which schools are increasingly refusing to deal with even minor discipline issues and are placing juveniles in police custody.
In 2010, there were 5,574 school-based arrests of juveniles in the Chicago Public School. The juvenile arrests accounted for about one of every five juvenile arrests in the entire city of Chicago for all of 2010. The incarceration rates for Chicago’s juveniles are in line with most other metropolitan areas in the country. There is also a general trend of disproportionate rates of minority contact within the juvenile justice system, Black youth accounted for 74% of school-based arrests, and 22.5% of youth arrested were Latino. The enrollment of Chicago schools in was 45% Black and 41% Latino. These high arrest rates for so many of our minority youth, create potential slave laborers for the Prison Industrial Complex. Once a child is adjudicated in the justice system, society usually witnesses a straight line right to prison. These precious children are having their futures robbed from them before they can even get started. What are they being arrested for? The number one reason is fighting on school grounds.
As a child, I had fights on school grounds, but nobody tried to send me to prison. The number two reason why children end up in the justice system is for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
As a former mental health counselor, I am all too familiar with the devastation brought on by use of drugs. However, marijuana is not one of these drugs. If legalizing marijuana runs against everything you believe in, how about decriminalizing. In other words, we still make the drug illegal but nobody goes to prison for simple possession.
The federal authorities, controlled by the corporations will never allow such a common sense, liberalized approach to drug enforcement. The feds even arrest medical marijuana dispensers and users. Why? Because Wall Street wants prisoners to fill its increasingly privatized and for-profit prison system. This is the major reason why America has 25% of the world’s prison population.
Our minority youth, in the inner cities, are being conditioned by the system that going to prison is part of the life experience. And with extremely high recidivism rates, prison slave labor will never have any shortage of participants.
The Prison Industrial Complex and their lobbyists are responsible for zero tolerance policies, mandatory sentencing and the three strikes life sentencing that is so prominent in many of our states and unless we identify these abuses and stop them, it is only going to get worse.
These events are culminating to establish was has been dubbed as the School to Prison Pipeline
Increasingly, the youth of America are the main participants and as a result slavery has reared its ugly head in the modern era and it is racist and exploits many of our youth for profit. And that is the topic of Part two of the Prison Industrial Complex.