Denial of Education in Tennessee, Symptom of a Bigger Problem
Recently I was front driver on a battle for education for another inmate. The prison industrial complex had him in a kitchen job at 17 cents an hour. He has been begging for GED for some time now, only to be told no and continue to work for private corporation Aramark in the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC).
I recently wrote the commissioner for the Department of Education in Tennessee, which has zero to do with TDOC. I told her how many are being denied programming and education. How is one supposed to better him/herself without an education? I said "what social interest is served by prisoners who remain illiterate? What social benefit is there in ignorance? How are people corrected while imprisoned if their education is outlawed? Who profits other than the prison industrial complex itself from stupid prisoners?" The recidivism rate for Tennessee is 55% for/in 3 years. 55% will return to prison. That's fact. And at $64.21 per day, you tell me who profits! Not the innocent women and children who the burden falls on when you get arrested and locked up again.
MIM(Prisons) responds: These are the right questions to raise: who really is benefiting from locking up so many people and then offering no services to help these people gain education and work skills, or address problems that make it hard for them to live outside of prison?
Ultimately we don't see any profit coming out of the actual locking up of people: it's a net money-losing enterprise paid for by the government (i.e. by U.$. taxpayers). But certainly there are lots of businesses and individuals working in the criminal injustice system who are making lots of money off this system and who have a material interest in perpetuating it. However, these people aren't the main ones driving the creation, expansion or continuation of prisons. The government, who is allotting so much money to prisons, is using them for the goal of social control, particularly targeting oppressed nations within U.$. borders.
Clearly the whole criminal injustice system needs to be dismantled. But in the short term it is folks like this writer, helping out fellow prisoners, who are doing the ground work to build a united movement strong enough to win the smaller battles today and the bigger battle tomorrow.