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Are Prisons Plantations Because of Prison Industrial Complex?

by Todd A. Smith

Difficult to Decipher: Prisons or Plantations

Prisons exist for a reason.

          Unfortunately, many citizens are a threat to society at large and must be confined for some years because of the threat they pose to their fellow man and as punishment for their crimes.

          Furthermore, people who support building more prisons claim that confinement rehabilitates prisoners and many leave the penitentiary as better men or women.

          Unfortunately, that belief is totally ludicrous, which makes one conclude that America needs to reevaluate its prison system because prisons are often creating even worse criminals. 

Conversely, natural maturity seems to be creating better men and women.  Prisons are no longer set up to rehabilitate, but to reap huge profits for business tycoons and the government via the prison industrial complex.

          In 2000, Missouri resident Cornealius “Mike” Anderson made a youthful mistake.  He robbed the assistant manager of a fast food joint and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

          After his appeals were denied, he was told to wait for word on his incarceration, but that information never came.

          For the next 13 years, he became a real man in every sense of the word.  He became a doting husband, a strong father, an entrepreneur, a regular churchgoer and even a little league coach.

          His transformation, outside of prison walls ironically, is what jail time is supposed to produce.

          Anderson believed that the robbery conviction was behind him, but he was picked up and jailed in 2013 after the state discovered their error.  They only realized that Anderson was not in prison when they became aware that it was time for his release.

          Many news stories and 35,000 petition signatures later, Anderson was released on Monday and given credit for time served by Judge Terry Lynn Brown in Mississippi County, Mo.

          “You’ve been a good father,” Brown said according to the Associated Press.  “You’ve been a good husband.  You’ve been a good taxpaying citizen of the state of Missouri.  That leads me to believe that you are a good man and a changed man.”

          Unfortunately for many convicted felons, that change is usually in a negative manner, which is the true reason that America has to reassess its prison system and make sure they are producing changed men and not more hardened criminals.

          According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Among state prisoners released in 30 states in 2005—About two-thirds (67.8 percent) of released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within three years, and three quarters (76.6 percent) were arrested within five years….Within five years of release, 84.1 percent of inmates who were age 24 or younger at release were arrested, compared to 78.6 percent of inmates ages 25 to 39 and 69.2 percent of those age 40 or older.”

          While the penile system cannot be blamed for all cases of recidivism, it seems that the high statistics of ex-convicts committing more crimes once they are released is proof that the system is not rehabilitating people who made past mistakes.  It is just continuing the criminal ways of those incarcerated.

          Regardless of the reason for recidivism, local, state and federal governments are not too concerned about making better men because they are making better profits because of the prison industrial complex, which can be blamed for the large number of Black and Latino men behind bars.

          Major corporations and government entities contract with the prison system so that prisoners can manufacture products, which they sell at almost 100 percent profit.

          Furthermore, with strict drug policies and three strikes laws, states are building more prisons instead of producing more real jobs for the people trying to turn their lives around.

          Prisoners often make approximately 25 cents an hour, which virtually makes the prison industrial complex a form of modern slavery.

          According to Global Research, “Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25 percent of the world’s prison population, but only five percent of the world’s people.  From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to two million by the year 2000…

          “According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100 percent of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags…and canteens.  Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98 percent of the entire market for equipment assembly services, 93 percent of paints and paintbrushes; 92 percent of strove assembly…36 percent of home appliances; 30 percent of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21 of office furniture.”

          The profits that companies and governments make through the prison industrial complex would make it hard for any of them to care about rehabilitation.

          Profit over people makes more sense I guess.

          To combat the prison industrial complex, and to truly help Black and Latino men get second chances, members of the community should try to avoid products produced by businesses that exploit the prison population.

          Use that money to support companies that support us and/or save that money to properly educate our younger brothers and sisters so they can make a positive change when they reenter society.

          The prison industry complex is just slavery by another name, which is obviously unrighteous.

          Unfortunately, America has never been concerned about being righteous.  She only responds to narrower pockets and slimmer bank accounts.

          For example, the Montgomery Bus Boycott did not achieve its goals because Jim Crow Southerners finally found religion.  It was because they found their businesses about to go under.

          That same feeling needs to visit companies that benefit from seeing young Black and Latino males incarcerated at record rates.

          Luckily for Anderson, his rehabilitation had a Hollywood ending and should be used as the model for what someone can do if given a second chance.

          But unfortunately for most, rehabilitation will have to take a back seat until we can rewrite laws and rewire our thinking on how American slavery truly works.

This article was published on Friday 09 May, 2014.
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