Friday, 29 May 2015

No Freedom While One Prison Stands.

       Remembering the fact that America imprisons more people per head of population than any other country on the planet, almost 1 in 200 American citizens are behind bars, then it is not surprising that those caged humans do not take it in a submissive manner. Another fact about the American prison system is, on the whole, it is a corporate business and profit is God. This is also a trend that is increasing here in the UK. There has been a growing trend in America, of prison protests, and there are plenty, linking up and co-ordinating their efforts in an attempt to alleviate their brutal treatment and suffering. Demanding change can turn these inhumane cage factories into non profitable entities for the corporate world, and they will walk away. At present they are only making a profit because of the appalling conditions and the government subsides, a staggering $39 billion-a-year to fund America’s prisons with the total budget for incarceration being $60.3 billion. By 2020, the Department of Justice reckons it will be spending 30 percent of its budgets on federal prisons.

      There is no doubt what so ever, that prisons are factories, turning out merchandise and the labour is forced and extremely low paid, if at all. By any definition, that is slavery.

       The thirteenth amendment to the US constitution does not abolish slavery. It states: “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” (my emphasis). All prison systems in the US rely on prisoner labor to maintain the facilities. It is prisoners who mop floors, fix plumbing, handle paperwork, and do the many other tasks necessary to keeping the prison running. Prisoners are also farmed out to private corporations seeking cheap labor. All this labor is grossly underpaid (if paid at all) and compulsory; as many prisoners have explained to me, it is a modern form of slavery.
      There can be no place in a civilised society for prisons, prisons don't solve any problems, they only store individuals with problems, and in the process, creating greater problems for them and society in general. The dark shadow of the death penalty also hangs over the American prison system. No individual, institution or group, has the right to condemn another human to death. This barbaric tool of repression from a by-gone era, is a blot on the face of humanity. It also is an expense weapon of repression costing the American tax payer dear,  New Jersey spent $253 million-a-year at $11 million for each inmate. At the start of 2013, 3,125 inmates were on death row. Many prisoners spend many years in this appalling state, most spend at least a decade there, some more than 20 years, the longest time between a conviction and execution was 36 years. There can be no freedom while one prison still stands.

        US prisons may not be able to handle these changes; the current administrators almost certainly won’t. That is not our problem. If prisons cannot run without slavery and torture, then they should not run. Mass work stoppages and hunger strikes, with outside direct action support will make prison financially untenable. We will shut the prisons down. If the increasingly unequal and largely illusory class peace of American capitalism cannot survive without its prisons, then it too should and will end. We can and will abolish slavery and torture in US prisons, along with them we will bring down whatever institutions depend on these intolerable practices.
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