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[Mass Incarceration] [Economics] [Colorado]
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Whole Towns Living Off the Prison Teat

I am a prisoner of the Cañon City Complex, a “campus” with seven prisons holding up to 10,000 victims of Colorado’s giant injustice system. A few weeks ago I went out for a day trip to a doctor in the town next to the complex, Cañon City. Much of the town is new, businesses like motels, fast food joints, etc. line the main drag.

When sitting in the doctor’s office I asked the prison guard who was there, “who or what financially supports all the people and businesses in this town?” He replied, “The Cañon City Complex”. Yup, a whole town that survives (mostly) because of mass imprisonment. Shut down the prisons and the town would quickly become a ghost town.

We think about all the people that suck at the teat of The System, from cops to lawyers, to all jail/prison personnel, to parole officers. But few consider all the people/businesses that have a symbiotic relationship with the teat suckers. Providers of all the goods and services that they use from food, to clothing, to auto repair. A great mass of people around the United $tates who will always cry “law and order,” and who will oppose any reform efforts to reduce the number of people arrested every year (10 million plus per Law Prof. Dan Canon), the number of people imprisoned, or the length of the sentences.

My thesis is: If you are an activist/reformer who wants to change The System, then you need to know exactly what you are up against. You cannot have any real success unless you do.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with that thesis. And this comrade’s report aligns with our past research on the U.$. prison economy and what is driving it. It has become chic to talk about the “Prison Industrial Complex” as if there are a bunch of big corporations whose profits are driving mass incarceration in this country, like the ones that drive military production and war (militarism). As this comrade describes, the prison system is more like the New Deal. But instead of funding jobs to build roads to improve transport for commerce, they are funding jobs to build prisons for population control. In this way a goal of the state is accomplished, while shuffling superprofits from the Third World to the Amerikans in these prison towns doing unproductive labor whether as prison guards, salespeople, cashiers, or insurance agents.

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[Legal] [Political Repression] [Mass Incarceration] [New Mexico] [ULK Issue 4]
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Denial of mail and legal rights in New Mexico

This facility here is one of the most over controlled I’ve been in. You can receive no books, magazines, newspapers or periodicals from the outside. There is no educational material available. There is no mail allowed that has xeroxes, printed by ink jet, internet copies, pictures downloaded from the internet, laser-printer photographs, newspaper or magazine clippings, postcards, envelopes with XOXO, S.W.A.K. (sealed with a kiss) or write back soon, perfume smell or lipstick markings.

There is no access to a law library or legal materials here. I have had legal mail opened not in my presence and have even had legal mail taken because it contained information about how to fight the system a case law about the constitutional rights of prisoners from the Center for Constitutional Rights - a law firm out of New York. It also contained a book called “The Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook”. When the contents were seen, the envelope was resealed and sent back.

I have saved and documented everything. I have written up a civil rights complaint against the jail, Aramark (a prison industry complex member) and 3 officers, but I am unable to file because they refuse to let me make the required copies or get a 6 month copy of my trust account which is required to file In Forma Papuperis.

Also I was helping and advising several other prisoners on how to file suit. I had them file grievances to exhaust the administrative remedies as required by the prison litigation reform act. The administration has caught on to what I’m doing and has refused to answer any of the grievances that match the three issues I am trying to take to court. They refuse to answer them because without proof of exhausting the administrative remedies process, they can not take issues to court.

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