The Prison Industrial Complex in America:
|by Kobutsu Malone|
The United States Constitution Permits Prison Slavery and Involuntary Servitude
AMENDMENT XIII - SECTION 1.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
The Prison Industrial Complex - A Reality
The prison industrial complex is a self perpetuating industry based on the subjugation of an increasing segment of our communities by racial and economic scapegoating. The economic angle of this is immediate, bottom line, material gain for the corporations supporting and profiting from the prison industrial complex.
Political values, largely molded by globalized corporate media providers, play into the industrial complex by supporting the unquestioned growth of the industry. "Hard-on-crime" political posturing is almost considered indispensable in the political climate in America.
Leadership is absent from the political arena. Public opinion sampling has replaced leadership due to the materialistic notion that being reelected is the ultimate goal of a term in office. Leadership involves making unpopular decisions for the common good. A good leader challenges society and questions the people's attitudes, such actions are absent in American politics. Pleasing the most people for the most time is the number one priority, there is something wrong with this picture.
I have often held that we ought to create legislation that recognized that if any person showed any interest in a political office, he or she should be disqualified from holding that office -so much for professional politicians. People should be dragged kicking and screaming into the Whitehouse, not spending tens of millions of dollars seeking the position. Let's drag Walter Cronkite out of retirement and make him President. He doesn't want the job, is popular, and would probably do a darn good job.
Social structures die hard. Changing, even abolishing social structures takes time and effort. The Prison Industrial Complex is a social structure of grand scale. It has only recently come into focus as a reality in American society. Many people I have encountered are not yet even familiar with the term "prison industrial complex." I often receive looks of incredulity when I speak about this man-made structure which self perpetuates imprisonment at an ever-growing rate in America. We now have over 2.2 million people, human beings, citizens, behind bars in America. We have the unique distinction of being the largest incarcerator of human beings in the world, bar none. Prison is big business, very big business.
The secure housing, minimal support, minimal medical care and feeding of 2.2 million people is a costly endeavor consuming billions and billions of dollars of taxpayer's money every year in America. Corporations are lined up to receive a portion of the public funds used to support the self-perpetuating incarceration industry. States such as California spend more public funds, tax dollars, your money, my money, on prisons than for education and schools.
Prison by definition as codified in the thirteenth amendment of the United States Constitution can hold people in slavery and involuntary servitude. Prison labor is slave labor at worst and coerced cooperation at best. It is a growing phenomenon in the prison industrial complex. Some of the advertisements listed below deal with prison labor issues. One, a 1/4-page advertisement, by Illinois Correctional Industries, appears to be seeking out of state prisoners for its prison labor programs. It is an industry and it is indeed complex, as a look through the December 2000 copy of "Corrections Today," the "industry's" trade magazine, reveals 117 corporate advertisements placed by 98 corporations. Each one of these companies to a greater or lesser extent is making profit from the 2.2 million people being held captive within the prison industry. Many of the following companies listed are solely concerned with prisons, others such as the drug company Bristol-Myers are advertising to just one aspect of the industry. The telecommunications providers make a huge profit from prisoner telephone calls, the vast majority of which are collect to the prisoner's family and loved ones. A prisoner's family may be charged a "connection fee" of over $3 for each call and the privilege of spending over ten times the normal rate for telephone calls.
Telecommunications contracts in the prison industry are highly prized and lucrative "deals" that invariably entail legal kickbacks to the prisons euphemistically labeled "attractive commission and incentive programs." An initial telecommunications contract with a state department of corrections can involve a million dollars or more in "incentive" up front.
Slavery in your portfolio?
Take a good look at the list below...own any stock in any of the companies listed? Patronize any of the telecommunications companies? Verizon? MCI? Think about it, these companies are all making profit from the incarceration of human beings under conditions which cause suffering to the prisoners, their families and loved ones, the guards and administrators who hold them captive, and the social fabric of our communities. Socially responsible investment demands that capital be moved elsewhere in support of the common good the social economy, that which supports the community of all people, that which underpins the materialistic economy. Think of investing in the PIC as being bad-business in the long run...
|The corporations above fall into the following categories:
Operational Hardware 29
Design and Construction 26
Medical Care 13
Private Prison Corporations 8