Tag Archives | Prison-Industrial Complex
Juan Thompson writes at the Intercept:
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The photo shows two white Chicago Police officers posing with an unidentified black man [above]. The officers — Timothy McDermott and Jerome Finnigan — are holding rifles as the black man lies on the floor with a dazed look on his face and with antlers on his head as if he were a prized, big buck finally hunted down.
Finnegan is smiling and grabbing the right antler, while McDermott is holding up the man’s head as if it were his trophy.
The photo was taken in a police station on the West Side of Chicago sometime between 1999 and 2003. The Chicago Police Department successfully kept it hidden from the public until a judge refused to keep it under seal and the Chicago Sun-Times pulled a copy from a court filing.
Finnigan is a notoriously dirty ex-cop who was a member of the police department’s elite Special Operations Section (SOS) until 2006, when he was charged with leading a gang of fellow officers who robbed suspects, illegally invaded homes and stole thousands of dollars in cash.
There’s a tech incubator popping up, but it’s not in Silicon Valley—it’s inside San Quentin State Prison. The Last Mile program teaches inmates entrepreneurship skills with the goal that each participant founds a socially conscious, tech-forward company. Award-winning filmmaker Ondi Timoner goes inside the innovative non-profit and follows inmates as they work to craft a business plan, pitch their ideas in front of venture capitalists, and then, transition back into society.
For those of you who say there are no moving or powerful voices left in America, you might want to direct your attention to a 20-minute clip of American philosopher and activist Dr. Cornel West speaking in a Manhattan church on April 6th of this year. In it West delivers a dizzying, fiery, and tear-jerking sermon reminiscent of the greatest moments in the tradition of American political speech.
The Stop Mass Incarceration Network organized the event, A Call to Act, and it’s no surprise that the Stop Mass Incarceration Network exists or that Dr. West participated. The US now has more prisoners and prisons than any other country on the planet, a fact West is well aware of as he regularly speaks out over the New Jim Crow and to inmates serving time. In fact, the land of the free is now home to more prisons than colleges.… Read the rest
Via the Good Men Project:
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Lisa Hickey: I’ve been thinking a lot about prison lately. It’s not something that, as a women, I am used to thinking about a lot, and the number of conversations I’ve had about the topic in my lifetime are far and few between. Perhaps men don’t think or talk about it much either, but we’ve been discussing it a lot on the The Good Men Project lately and I’d like to share with you the complexity of the issues and the insights I’ve seen unfolding.
One thing we’ve discussed recently in an article is the difference in sentencing between men and women for similar crimes. I think the sentencing disparity is part of a cultural narrative that goes like this: Men are assumed to be guilty more often, and they are also assumed to cause more harm when they do commit crimes.
Via Graeme Wood at Pacific Standard:
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One of my daughter’s favorite stuffed animals is a chocolate-colored, beady-eyed buffalo that was stitched—lovingly, I like to think—by the hands of a convicted felon. The buffalo was born in Cañon City, Colorado, on the grounds of a large rural complex of six state prisons with a total of 4,000 inmates. Some of those inmates manufacture cute toys. Others tend real buffalo on feedlots and dairies outside in the mountain air. The goal, said Steve Smith, the prison-labor program’s mustachioed director until his retirement in December, is to convert the prisoners through labor into productive citizens. “This is a therapeutic community,” he said. “We’re trying to make them into taxpayers instead of tax burdens.” He channeled the Book of Isaiah, or possibly Ozzy Osbourne: “No rest for the wicked.”
The most familiar prison work programs involve stamping license plates or breaking rocks as part of a chain gang.
This is awful.
Abby Haglage via The Daily Beast:
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On September 5, 2008, Fate Vincent Winslow watched a plainclothes stranger approach him. Homeless and hungry, on a dark street rife with crime, the 41-year-old African American was anxious to make contact, motivated by one singular need: food.
Another man, this one white, stood next to Winslow. He is referred to in court documents exclusively as “Perdue.”
It was nearly 9:20 p.m., hours after the sun had dipped below the abandoned buildings surrounding them. The lights of downtown Shreveport, Louisiana, flickered in the distance as the plain-clothes man—unbeknownst to them, an undercover cop—arrived.
“What do you need?” Winslow asked. “A girl and some weed,” Officer Jerry Alkire replied.
Perdue remained silent as Winslow and Alkire negotiated the costs. Winslow wanted a $5 delivery fee for the $20 (two dime bags) of pot. Fine. Money settled, he grabbed Perdue’s bike and took off.
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Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society.
States, in the name of austerity, have stopped providing prisoners with essential items including shoes, extra blankets and even toilet paper, while starting to charge them for electricity and room and board.
via The Anti Media:
(TheAntiMedia) The united states prison system, not only a machine for mass incarceration, but a machine for modernized slave labor. The United States has 5% of the worlds population, yet we have 25% of the worlds prison population. Land of the free right?
It would seem the statistics say otherwise, since the official drug war president Nixon announced in the 70′s, our prison population has grown over 700%! Recent estimates put our prison population to well over 2.4 million inmates. 50% of the federal prison inmates are for non violent drug offenses. All the while 20% of state prison inmates are drug related.
via Don’t Comply:
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The Open Society Foundations today awarded a grant of $50 million to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in support of its nationwide campaign to end mass incarceration. The campaign seeks to reform criminal justice policies that have increased incarceration rates dramatically during a period of declining crime —and exacerbated racial disparities. The nation’s adult jail and prison population numbers over 2.2 million with one in 100 adults behind bars, the highest incarceration rate in the world. The ACLU intends to cut that number in half by 2020, with the most ambitious effort to end mass incarceration in American history.
“Reducing our nation’s prison population by 50 percent may sound like a lofty goal. But Americans are recognizing that we can’t arrest our way out of every social problem and, in fact, the overuse of our criminal justice system has been making matters worse,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D.