I could write about the newest murder committed by the police, could write about the newest life lost behind bars, but what would be the point? Like cancer and massive debt these things hold no shock value for us anymore. We’ve come to expect them in our everyday life, stare blankly as body after body goes into a cell or into the ground. We argue about “prison reform” and “better training” yet still the blood flows. Above all, all maintain that while it’s not pretty police and prisons are necessary for any society.
These people are, in the parlance of our times, spineless and servile little worms who are hideously, grotesquely wrong.
The bootlickers among us, those disgusting and shriveled souls who can idly watch execution after execution, might differ from my opinion. To them there is no problem, and if there was it could never, ever be the institutions themselves. It’s a given that rough men breaking skulls are needed to keep dangerous people away from the good; that large amounts of humans are required to be kept in cages where they will be raped, beaten, and humiliated on a daily basis to preserve society’s serenity.
Some of these people even dare call us “comrade.”
The radical breed of these poor deluded souls, clouded from years of competing with liberals, attempt to dress the same institutions in new language. They assure converts the people’s prisons will be filled not with criminals but “class enemies,” promise that the difference between a cop and a comrade is a matter of pages read by Murray Bookchin or a degree in intersectional theory. The most despicable of these repugnant creatures will even bubble the wretched idea that “cops are workers too.”
Nothing can be further from the truth and nothing can transform these institutions. Prison and Police reform are impossible because they are the epitome of exploitation, the crowning jewel of a modern-day slave empire. We do not need cops and we do not need prisons. We cling to these institutions not because they are necessary but because we can’t imagine a world without them, even if such a world has existed and continues to today.
But before we can see that world we must first cleanse our vision, douse our selves in hyssop and break free from the unclean spirits that litter our mind. We must first come to terms with what the police and prisons really are instead of what the police and prisons say they are.
The Police Are Your Enemy
Police were never created to protect anybody. Police instead have their roots in the rise of modern property relations 200 years ago and the “disorderly conduct” of the urban poor. This, coupled with their long history as slave catchers, highlight the fact the police only “serve” to steal value from the workers and “protect” the property of the powerful.
When the police admit they must arrest a certain amount of people, they are admitting they operate to intimidate and steal from workers. Witness the effects of a two-day work stoppage by the NYPD: citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, summons for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination plunged by 94 percent, parking violations dropped by 92 percent, and drug arrests fell by 84 percent.
This wasn’t some noble decision to get back to “protecting and serving,” but a calculated economic attack, and shows arrests mostly function as a way to generate revenue. Cops are nothing more than engines of profit, profit taken by force from the workers and deposited into the hands of the bourgeoisie. Court, criminal, and administrative fines contribute some $800 million to the New York City’s annual budget, according to its Office of Management and Budget’s projections, and that’s money mostly taken from the working poor.
To put that in perspective, the cigarette tax will bring in about $52 million a year, hotel taxes generate roughly $547 million, and commercial rent tax will supply $720 million. Don’t think this is some kind of New York oddity either, like mole people living in subways or a disproportionate pride in the fact you were born in a shithole. According to The Washington Post, some communities in Missouri draw as much as 30 percent of their revenue from these sources, and across the board they always seem to fall disproportionately on poor, non-white people.
The people are being fleeced, like sheep, by shepherds who have no qualms about killing the livestock. But these pastoral pigs don’t merely beat up the poor and shake them down for money.
You can only make so much money off a worker, but you can make a hell of a lot more off a slave.
Prison: The Modern Day Plantation
When we think of police we often think of half-evolved werewolves that “patrol” our neighborhoods, noses sniffing for easy prey as they roll by in race cars, but there’s much more to policing then that. A cop implies law, laws imply courts, and courts imply cages where those deemed troublesome can be left to rot. A cop’s job is to enforce the law, whether it is wrong or right, and especially if it means keeping prison beds full.
Prison and jail aren’t about rehabilitation, and they aren’t about justice. They are about money through slavery, and the significant 1871 court ruling from Ruffin v. Commonwealth puts it all in black and white. This landmark Virginia case set the precedent for state control of inmate bodies and labor, one still used today, and cuts no corners in laying out what the State hopes to gain from an individual’s imprisonment:
“For the time, during his term of service in the penitentiary, he is in a state of penal servitude to the State. He has, as a consequence of his crime, not only forfeited his liberty, but all his personal rights except those which the law in its humanity accords to him. He is for the time being a slave of the State. He is civiliter mortus; and his estate, if he has any, is administered like that of a dead man.”
Slavery never ended. It just became legal. In privately run prisons inmates will receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they deem “highly skilled positions.” Federal prisons are a little better, offering $1.25 an hour. Both will make everything from blue jeans to body armor and hire their captive labor out to the highest bidder.
These are not hardened criminals being sentenced to indentured servitude. Ninety-seven percent of 125,000 federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes and it is believed that more than half of the 623,000 inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Of these, the majority are awaiting trial. Two-thirds of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. This is not by accident but by design.
Just look at who is being arrested…