Gulag Nation USA: 2.3 Million Inmates, Forced Labor, Rancid Food --...

Chris Hedges shows the US private prison as a as predatory corporate capitalism niche inherently exploitative, designed for torture, for efficient transfer of public funds to private profit.

These corporations ... stymie rational prison reform because the system, however inhumane and unjust, feeds corporate bank accounts. At its bottom the problem is not race—although race plays a huge part in incarceration rates—nor is it finally poverty; it is the predatory nature of corporate capitalism itself.

If, as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons” then we are a nation of barbarians. Our vast network of federal and state prisons, with some 2.3 million inmates, rivals the gulags of totalitarian states. Once you disappear behind prison walls you become prey. Rape. Torture. Beatings. Prolonged isolation. Sensory deprivation. Racial profiling. Chain gangs. Forced labor. Rancid food. Children imprisoned as adults. Prisoners forced to take medications to induce lethargy. Inadequate heating and ventilation. Poor health care. Draconian sentences for nonviolent crimes. Endemic violence.

... the U.S. prison system was creating something new—special detention facilities that under international law are a form of torture.

Neo-slavery is an integral part of the prison industrial complex, in which hundreds of thousands of the nation’s prisoners, primarily people of color, are forced to work at involuntary labor for a dollar or less an hour.

The bodies of poor, unemployed youths are worth little on the streets but become valuable commodities once they are behind bars.

People have said to me that the criminal justice system doesn’t work,” Kerness said. “I’ve come to believe exactly the opposite — that it works perfectly, just as slavery did, as a matter of economic and political policy. How is it that a 15-year-old in Newark who the country labels worthless to the economy, who has no hope of getting a job or affording college, can suddenly generate 20,000 to 30,000 dollars a year once trapped in the criminal justice system?

The criminalization of poverty is a lucrative business,...

Prisons function in the same way the military-industrial complex functions. The money is public and the profits are private. “Privatization in the prison industrial complex includes companies, which run prisons for profit while at the same time gleaning profits from forced labor,”...

Female prisoners routinely complain of being sexually abused by guards. One prisoner wrote to her office: “That was not part of my sentence to perform oral sex with officers.”

... a litany of “inhumane conditions including cold, filth, callous medical care, extended isolation often lasting years, use of devices of torture, harassment, brutality and racism.” Prisoners send her drawings of “four- and five-point restraints, restraint hoods, restraint belts, restraint beds, stun grenades, stun guns, stun belts, spit hoods, tethers, and waist and leg chains.”

The techniques of sensory deprivation and prolonged isolation were pioneered by the Central Intelligence Agency to break prisoners during the Cold War.

... the worst torment, prisoners tell her, is the psychological pain caused by “no touch torture” that included “humiliation, sleep deprivation, sensory disorientation, extreme light or dark, extreme cold or heat” and “extended solitary confinement.” These techniques, she said, are consciously designed to carry out “a systematic attack on all human stimuli.”

Kerness says the for-profit prison companies have created an entrepreneurial class like that of the Southern slaveholders, one “dependent on the poor, and on bodies of color as a source for income,” and she describes federal and state departments of corrections as “a state of mind.” This state of mind, she said in the interview, “led to Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo and what is going on in U.S. prisons right this moment.”

“Until we deeply recognize that the system’s bottom line is social control and creating a business from bodies of color and the poor, nothing can change.” [emphasis mine]

Tags: for profit prisons, neo-slavery, torture

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Replies to This Discussion

(It felt weird to click "Like" because I most certainly do not "like" the predatory, for-profit prison system, but rather think it deserves attention.)

Another beneficiary: telecom companies that profit from exorbitant collect-call fees when prisoners call family and friends.

"The criminalization of poverty is a lucrative business,..." I never thought I would see this realized by another person in my life time.  We are opening up to new forms of economic slavery: Neo-slavery, Wage-slavery, debt-slavery and Internship-slavery; and I am sure countless others are on the horizon as civil liberties and rights become contractually removed for the opportunity to become employed.

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