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Incarceration the New Slavery

Updated on September 12, 2014
Super Max Prison Florence, CO
Super Max Prison Florence, CO
Super Max Prison  Marion, Illinois
Super Max Prison Marion, Illinois | Source
Guard cuffing an inmate in solitary confinement
Guard cuffing an inmate in solitary confinement

The Industrial Prison Complex

Prisons are hotels with guaranteed occupancy.

Ron Garzini, Private Prison Boost



Nationwide the prison boom is a marriage repeated over and over in nearly every state. In 1996 contractors broke ground on 26 federal prisons and 96 state prisons. The Texas penal system has more employees than Walmart. Five percent of population growth in rural areas is accounted for by the increasing prison population.

Pelican Bay Super-max cost 277.5 million dollars to build and is used by other states as a model built to house those deemed incorrigible in an sensory deprived and isolated enviroment like no other. it is Crescent City and Del Norte County's largest employer and its new colonial master. It boasts its own K-mart, Safeway, and Ace Hardware store. it collected 142 million in sales taxes in 1996. Its annual budget is 90 million a year. low level security inmates are used as a source of cheap labor to maintain school grounds, and public buildings and streets.

Private Prisons

The privatization of prisons and what is referred to as the "Prison Industrial Complex" is based on the exploitation of cheap prison labor by private firms. It is based on corporate interests and a locked down economy in what is fast becoming the American Gulag nation.

Many small agricultural towns have now turned from produce to prisons for economic security. Florence Colorado bought 600 acres of ranch land for 100,000 dollars and gave it to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to build the Colorado Shu Super-Max. Private prisons make their money by skimping on food, staffing, medications, education and other inmate services. the staff is poorly trained, ill equipped and often brutal. The rate of guards to inmates is usually about 2 guards to 250 inmates. the staff turnover is high about 200 percent and the stress rate extremely high. Under the Three strikes law and increasing criminal statutes and longer sentences, the american gulag is bursting at the seams.

Racism And The Prison Population

The racial disparity in the growing prison population is glaring apparent. Two thirds of the prison admissions are black or latino while the majority of the keepers (guards) are white middle class white males. Minorities receive longer sentences and the worst of the jobs in the prison system. This leads to resentment and sometimes retaliation against staff and other inmates.


The Beginning Of Prison Slavery

When most people think of slavery they think of the Jim crow era and civil rights but there is a new form of slavery that exists in the United States. It is the use of prisoners for cheap labor. Do you know that if you give your credit card number to a travel company for reservations it is possible that the agent you are speaking to is in a prison call center. Comforting right?

This type of labor has been around for centuries but not as exposed as lately. it began when President Lincoln freed the slaves and the plantation owners needed a new labor source to work their plantations. What better source than those incarcerated. many prisoners were taken out to work the plantations of the white masters. They were kept in holes in the ground with a wire locked top and given a bucket to urinate in. The urine was sold to tanneries. Others worked in the houses of the plantation owners as domestic servants. This continues today in many prisons where the staff live in houses on the prison grounds and have the inmates washing cars, doing laundry and other domestic chores. Some states such Louisiana and Mississippi sentence inmates to hard labor. Texas is especially notorious for this as is the aforementioned states.

Inmates perform tasks such as working the fields, making license plates, making clothing (California has its own clothing line which is sold in local stores) , to call centers. The inmates make approximately 30 cents a day and federal inmates make nothing. If an inmate is injured while working there is no workers comp or anything to cover their injuries. The most potent pain reliever they receive is aspirin or Advil from sick call. Many states have chain gangs such as Mississippi, Texas and Alabama who clean the roads and other routine tasks such as working in the bus barn repairing school buses, and painting county buildings.

Slavery and incarceration have its roots going many years back but it is a shame that it still exists today. I still feel it should be a "fair days work for a fair days pay" . Many inmates would like to send money to their wives and children but do not make enough at these jobs to do so. they also lack funds to buy personal items from commissary due to the high prices.

While I do believe that those incarcerated should pay their dues they are sentenced to time not abuse.


Prison Labor In The Industrial Prison Complex

A large part of the prison industrial complex is the use of cheap prison labor by private and state owned companies. Many see the use of prison labor as prisoners getting their "just deserts" and deserved. Inmates are used for agriculture, making clothes, computer circuit boards, telemarketing, call centers, Microsoft, Victoria's Secret and Starbucks.

While inmates are usually paid minimum wage under PIE Joint Venture For Inmate leasing. Even so most of the inmates pay is taken for taxes, room and board, victim restitution and court costs. The inmate is usually left with thirty-five to sixty-three cents a day.

State owned prison industries use inmate labor to make furniture, food, road signs, and computers. Oregon being unable to sell its goods in the public market sells it's own line of clothing internationally to Japan and Italy. The line is called appropriately "Prison Blues".

The largest employer of prison labor is the Federal Prison Industries also known as Unicor. The company is state owned and sells only to other federal agencies which are guaranteed markets for them by law. Among the things manufactured by Unicor are body armor , safety googles, wiring for jet fighters and road signs.

Americas 2.5 million prisoners are the new slave work force and the cheap labor is the major driving force behind the ever growing Prison Industrial Complex.

Prison Stock

In the past 5 years I have watched the economy go from bad to worse. The only stock I noticed that never fell was the private prison stock like Wackenhut which is now the Geo Group and Corrections Corporation Of America. This did not strike me as strange since one of the conditions of a private prison building and staffing a facility is an agreement with the state where it is located that it will keep the prison at 90 % capacity. This means that even the smallest offense can be prosecuted with a long sentence. Mandatory minimums and the three strikes law have made this easier. Drug offenses make up the majority of the inmates and we are not talking about big time dealers, just the ordinary user.

Minorities make up the majority of the incarcerated. I decided to purchase some stock. I figure it's a win , win, either way. I also hear the label "Prison Blues" is doing well but I would never personally wear it myself.

These inmates are used without shame as slave labor and no one comes to their aid.

Who says "Jim Crowe laws and racisim are dead. it is alive and well in the Industrial Prison Complex.

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    • kschang profile image

      kschang 4 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA

      So don't get busted. Is that the message?

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