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[National Oppression] [Prison Labor] [ULK Issue 2]
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Amerikans: Oppressing for a Living

Direct expenditure by criminal justice function

Critics of amerika's unprecedentedly high incarceration rates have stressed that increased imprisonment does not correspond to less crime. And despite decreasing crime rates, imprisonment continues to rise. How is this possible?

A recent report from the JFA Institute describes how the increase in prison populations is a result of a change in laws and policies in enforcement. (1) We have been in the era of "tough on crime" politics for decades, but most amerikans will still hide the fact that this translates into increased control and repression of the internal semi-colonies. At the same time, millions of amerikkkans are supporting these laws as a means of securing the jobs and livelihood of themselves and their families. While white people like to look at slavery and genocide as things in the past, the amerikkkan nation has probably never been so deeply entrenched and invested as a nation of oppressors as they are today with millions serving as cops, spies and military personnel.

And while the white media would have you believe that "tough on crime" policies are protecting amerikans from murderers and sexual predators, about two-thirds of the 650,000 prison admissions each year are people who have violated their probation or parole. And half of these violations are technical, in other words, they're going to prison for things most people could not be put in prison for. (1) The demand for more incarceration is putting hundreds of thousands of people in prison each year for doing things not generally considered crimes under u$ law.

Who's Profiting?

The progressive groups opposing the prison industrial complex like to condemn so-called "prisons-for-profit." But it isn't primarily corporate profits behind the three decades long prison boom and the so-called "tough on crime" legislation. It is amerikan cops and bureaucrats maneuvering for government funds (money that comes from taxing amerikans whose wealth comes from the exploitation of labor and resources from the Third World). And it is career politicians catering to a white nationalist vote. "Tough on crime" stances aren't tolerated in amerikan politics, rather, they are demanded by the voting public. Politicians who have attempted to go against the tide can attest to this.

Other than "prisons are big business" the other popular argument explaining the surge in incarceration is that it is "modern day slavery." As an economic force behind imprisonment, this too is largely a myth. If the motivation for being the number one imprisonment country in all of history was exploiting labor then you would see the majority of prisoners engaged in productive labor. While some sources claim half of all prisoners work, one study from 1994 found less than 10% are involved in work other than maintenance and housekeeping. (2) More recent statistics by state indicate industrial employment at similar low rates. (3) The estimate of half of prisoners working seems reasonable if we acknowledge that most of those prisoners have part-time jobs doing upkeep of the prison. While also dated, MIM cited statistics from 1995 showing that only 6.4% of sales stemming from prison labor in the united $tates was private in MIM Theory 11: Amerikkkan Prisons on Trial.

Generally, if prisoners work for an outside corporation and produce goods for interstate commerce, then they are legally required to receive amerikkkan exploiter level wages. The benefit to the companies is that they can skimp on benefits and don't need to give raises. Small business owners have fought to limit the benefits of those who use prison labor, since they lack the capital to take advantage of such competitive advantages. The petty bourgeois interests here keep those of the imperialists in check. (4)

Therefore, most prison labor is done for the state, who can pay whatever they want, and increasingly garnish most of the wages to pay for the prisoners' own imprisonment. These prisoners are either working to run the prison and therefore allowing the amerikkkans in charge of the prison to work as well-payed bureaucrats and not have to worry about cooking and cleaning, or they are working for government industries that supply state agencies and therefore subsidize the tax money of the state as a whole by reducing state expenses. The National Correctional Industries Association says state industries contributed $25 million by garnishing inmates wages, not a very large contribution to the cost of the u$ prison system. However, one estimate done by MIM 10 years ago indicates the savings in wages overall (not including benefits) could be on the order of 10% or more of current overall state expenditures on corrections (5), which have risen sharply (see graph).

Some state industries export products to other countries, but interstate commerce has largely been restricted by the efforts of small business interests and amerikan labor unions. Since the 1980s, the federal government has tried to embrace the model of "factories with fences." But the free market for slave labor continues to be hampered by state laws. This year, Alaska passed a law that allows the Department of Labor and Workforce Development can enter into contracts with private companies or individuals to sell them prison labor,

provided that the commissioner consults with local union organizations beforehand in order to ensure that the contract will not result in the displacement of employed workers, will not be applied in skills, crafts, or trades in which there is a surplus of available gainful labor in the locality, and will not impair existing contracts for services. A contract with an individual or a private organization must require that the commissioner be paid the minimum wage for each hour worked by a prisoner." (10)

Clearly this has nothing to do with prisoners' rights, but it is crafted for the protection of labor aristocracy jobs and small businesses. And as many states do, Alaska allows for the wages to be garnished before disbursing them to the prisoner. So there is no law that the prisoner must be paid a certain wage.

What about the one industry that does have unfettered access to prison labor? Theoretically, private prisons could collect fat contracts from the state and let prisoners do much of the work to run the facility. But after 3 decades of prison boom, still less than 5% of prisons are privately owned, at least partially due to an inability to remain profitable. (4) It is often pointed out that it costs more to keep a persyn in prison for a year than send them to college. (The difference for sending youth to a correctional facility compared to grade school can be differences in order of magnitude). This is a price that largely tax-averse amerikkkans are willing to pay.

State Bureaucrats and National Oppression

Strictly speaking, prisons are a net loss financially for the amerikkkan nation. And the boom cannot be blamed on any major corporate interests. What a beefed up injustice system does offer economically is a means of employing millions of people at cushy exploiter wages. It is a means of shuffling the super-profits around the pigsty and maintaining a consumer population. These millions of people provide a self-perpetuating demand for more prisoners, and more funding for various law enforcement projects.

One example of this self-perpetuating bureaucracy dates back to 1983 when James Gonzalez became Deputy Director of the California Department of Corrections. He immediately expanded the department's planning staff from 3 to 118 and began focusing on modeling that would forecast increasing needs for expansion into the future (it's not just COs getting the jobs). (6) Since then California has built 23 major new prisons, expanded other prisons and increased its prison population 500%. (7) With more prisons, come more prison guards, creating the 31,000 strong California Correctional Peace Officers Association with yearly dues totaling $21.9 million. (8) This is the same union that earned itself a raise following the exposure of gladiator fights staged by guards at Corcoran State Prison, where many prisoners were murdered. The very same that was behind the 3 strikes laws to put people away for 25 to life for petty crimes, and that has campaigned repeatedly to eliminate educational programs for prisoners.

The CO's are partners with the private industry that has boomed off of an economy based on war and repression. A visit to the American Corrections Association conference will tell you it's not just a few imperialist suits in a smoke-filled room. It is a getaway for a large mix of salesmen, cops and CO's; just regular amerikkkans. (9)

In the united $tates there are laws that prevent the military from lobbying the government as a safeguard against war being carried out in the interests of the warmakers. There are no such limits on the police and correctional officers (COs), allowing the war on gangs to go on perpetuating itself both politically and economically. The NYPD and LAPD have arsenals and capabilities that rival many nations' armed forces, and they are allowed to influence politics on the local, state and even federal level both directly and indirectly.

On the local level police departments have undermined trends toward so-called "community policing." Where youth in the community have been effective at reducing violence through dialogue and organizing, the police have rejected these programs in favor of community representatives who will rubber stamp their continued strategies of suppression and harassment of oppressed nation youth. When street organizations came together to form peace treaties in Los Angeles and Chicago in the 1990s, the police responded immediately through the white media saying it was a hoax and it would never last. Let there be no confusion, the police created these wars and the police will not let them stop.

In the late 1990s, the New York Times reported that most white residents of New York City were comfortable with police behavior, while 9 out of 10 Blacks believed brutality against Blacks to be frequent. The regular "stop and frisking" by police that was then practiced under Mayor Giuliani, was found to be directed at Blacks and Latinos 90% of the time. (11)

Politically, the rest of the oppressor nation is willing to go along with the job security plans of the police and correctional officers as a means of protecting their collective privilege. One of the few things amerikkkans can agree to spend state money on. With that, the injustice system becomes an important part of the national culture in rallying the people in material support of the imperialist system that they benefit from.

Who's being locked up?

While the question of who is profiting from the prison industrial complex is a bit cloudy and controversial, everyone knows who is being locked up. In a half century, amerikan prisons have gone from white dominated to Black dominated in a period where the Black population has increased less than 2 percentage points to its current level of about 12%. And yet amerikkkans are not outraged.

As we recently reported, Blacks are imprisoned at rates 10 times those of whites for drug charges and the increase in drug-related prison sentences was 77% for Blacks compared to 28% for whites. (12) So, the increase in sentences that is behind the current prison boom is targeting certain populations.

The JFA Institute report references research indicating that incarceration often encourages crime. In their summary of literature, they point to evidence that people will leave criminal lifestyles when given opportunities. No shit? Stopping crime isn't exactly rocket science. While communists know how to put an end to crime, the pigs and their fans have demonstrated that they aren't really interested in that. That would involve destroying their own privilege. In it's advanced stage of parasitism, the amerikkkan nation has a well-entrenched sector of pigs who get job security and pay raises from perpetuating crime and imprisonment.

Interestingly, the report also points to a number of studies indicating that government run programs have very marginal effects on reducing recidivism. This conclusion is supported by reports we get from comrades criticizing government programs. (13) Apparently, the literature also supports the need for programs like MIM(Prisons) Prisoner Re-Lease on Life program, because the only programs that seem to be effective in treatment and rehabilitation are independent from the government. (1) The people aren't stupid, they know what the state is there to do.

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