Fodder of the Prison Industrial Complex
RALEIGH, NC – “That’s the sound of the men working on the chain gang!” Lyrics from “The Chain Gang," a classic song by Sam Cooke released in 1960, laments the painful life of those incarcerated and forced to work for the penal system as their punishment. No one seemingly cared for the hardships of these inmates or the reasons for their incarceration.
Never mind the demographic target market for this immoral cruelty are the most vulnerable — homeless, drug-addicted, mentally ill, unemployed, poor Whites, undocumented immigrants and people of color. This vulnerable collective group of society's throwaways provides the mortar and grist which are the building blocks for this self-propagating regulated system that turns youthful mistakes into a lifetime of punishment.
What is the Prison Industrial Complex? PIC is used to attribute the rapid expansion of the U.S. inmate population to the political influence of private prison companies and businesses that supply goods and services to government prison agencies. The PIC is an interactive web of relationships between interdependent government agencies and private corporations.
Activist Angela Davis first coined the phrase in an essay written from the view of a former prisoner turned professor entitled ‘Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex. To quote her, “Imprisonment has become the response of first resort to far too many of the social problems that burden people ensconced in poverty." She goes on to add, "These problems are often veiled by being grouped under the category "crime' and by the automatic attribution of crime to people of color.”
Following the endless drive toward profiteering prison personnel and safety aren't paramount; Nor is rehabilitation, mental health or medical treatment. Private profiteering interests are rewarded by having as many people locked up as possible. There’s much more profit in the treatment than the cure.
Aggressive prison lobbying has surreptitiously and insidiously convinced lawmakers that mass
imprisonment would magically make societal ills disappear. Per the endless drive toward profiteering, prison personnel and safety aren’t paramount; Nor is rehabilitation, mental health or medical treatment. Private interests are rewarded by having as many people locked up as possible. There’s much more profit in the treatment than the cure.
Subsequently, the U.S. leads the world with the highest number of people incarcerated. The U.S. is 5 percent of the world's population but accounts for 25 percent of the imprisoned worldwide handily beating out China and Indonesia with populations exceeding 1 billion.
Apart from egregious crimes such as murder, rape, child exploitation, kidnapping, the African American Caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party supports the idea of abolitionism. The present judicial system is corrupt and broken and feeds into a system of predictable misery and recidivism. Let's abolish a rehabilitation model that produces pain, drug abuse, poverty, sexual assaults, rampant violence, and psycho-emotional damage. Let's replace it with a system that's asymptomatic and helps to heal the rift
between criminality and making these individuals viable and productive citizens.
We support the following policy ideas:
● Change the laws so that non-violent drug offenders aren't incarcerated;
● Make it illegal for a company doing business with the Department of Corrections, Federal
Bureau of Prisons or private prisons to contribute to any candidate, party or campaign;
● Create a prison tax from the companies that use inmate labor and operate within the prison
system to provide scholarships for former inmates and family members;
● Stop rewarding mega-corporations and big government at the expense of human beings,
community safety, and taxpayers;
● Invest more in failing schools and create a level playing field for all children;
● Invest more in programs for at-risk youth;
● Sentence non-violent offenders to do more in the community to foster positive change;
● Target funding for anti-gang programs;
● Increase funding for anti-drug abuse programs;
● Increase funding for successful recidivism programs;
● Create a shield law for background checks which won't exclude violent criminal histories but
makes it possible for non-violent felons to have gainful employment; and
● Establish a comprehensive plan to end poverty.
“That’s the sound of the men working on the chain gang!” We hear the plaintive cry. Pay it forward and let’s dissolve this broken system.