Abby Martin speaks with Eugene Puryear, author of ‘Shackled and Chained: Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America’, about how the US became the country holding a quarter of the world’s prisoners, the privatization of prisons, and the racial bias inherent in the criminal justice system.
Tag Archives | Prison System
Quentin Tarantino says slavery continues in the United States. The outspoken filmmaker — whose spaghetti southern Django Unchained unflinchingly depicts the brutality of slavery — stoked the debate on race Tuesday night when he appeared on the Canadian television talk show George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight to suggest that the United States' "war on drugs" and its "mass incarcerations" of black men is "just slavery through and through." Tarantino didn't cite these figures, but he could have: According to the New York Times, half of the 2.3 million Americans in prison or jail are black, an astonishing figure when compared to 2011 U.S. Censusinformation that indicates blacks comprise only 13.1 percent of the country's population. In other words, he's got a point, and this is a conversation our country should stop avoiding...
Corrections Corporation of America, recently sued over its collaborating with violent gangs, is now partnering with police to conduct “lock down sweeps” in which high schoolers are locked in their classrooms while canine units search their possessions for illegal contraband. Via PR Watch:
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An unsettling trend appears to be underway in Arizona: the use of private prison employees in law enforcement operations.
The state has graced national headlines in recent years as the result of its cozy relationship with the for-profit prison industry. Such controversies have included the role of private prison corporations in SB 1070 and similar anti-immigrant legislation disseminated in other states; a 2010 private prison escape that resulted in two murders and a nationwide manhunt; and a failed bid to privatize nearly the entire Arizona prison system.
And now, recent events in the central Arizona town of Casa Grande show the hand of private corrections corporations reaching into the classroom, assisting local law enforcement agencies in drug raids at public schools.
The US has the highest prison population in the world - some of whom have been subjected to lengthy sentences for relatively minor crimes. And that population has surged over the past three decades. Although there has been a slight reduction in the past year, more than two million people are either incarcerated in prison or in jail awaiting trial. The US has the highest rate of imprisonment in the world, with 743 people incarcerated for every 100,000 Americans. No other nation even comes close to these figures. One explanation for the boom in the prison population is the mandatory sentencing imposed for drug offences and the "tough on crime" attitude that has prevailed since the 1980s. But it is the length of sentences that truly distinguishes US prison policy. Some prisoners are locked up for life - literally - and many receive harsh sentences for non-violent crime...
Yes, there are bad cops everywhere, but the corrupt, racist, and violent New Orleans police department — in which officers engage in rape, arson, kidnapping, bank robberies, and murder, and citizens are arrested for little or no reason, held without charges for months, and routinely brutalized and tortured — is a different matter altogether. It is little exaggeration to say that the NOPD has become a criminal gang terrorizing the city’s residents. The New Statesman reports:
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Something terrible lies at the heart of New Orleans – a rampant, widespread and apparently uncontrollable brutality on the part of its police force and its prison service. The horrors of its criminal justice system from decades before Hurricane Katrina and up to now lie somewhere between, with little exaggeration, Candide and Stalin’s Gulags.
Spit on the sidewalk here, and you may be arrested – New Orleans has the highest incarceration rate of any city in the United States – and if you’re poor and black and can’t pay bail, you will enter a place where any protection under the American constitution and the Bill of Rights is stripped away.
“More African American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began,” Michelle Alexander told a standing room only house at the Pasadena Main Library this past Wednesday, the first of many jarring points she made in a riveting presentation...