From The Ramparts
Junious Ricardo Stanton
Nation Wide Prison Strike
“The Nationwide Prison Strike, scheduled to last from Aug. 21 to Sept. 9, is centered around 10 specific policy demands. These demands include significantly reducing the number of people in jail and prison, improving prison conditions, properly funding rehabilitation, and addressing racism throughout the criminal justice system.” Janos Marton https://www.aclu.org/blog/smart-justice/mass-incarceration/nationwide-prison-strike-why-its-happening-and-what-it-means
While the corporate media is fixated on the bogus “Russia Did It” meme, the daily craziness within the Trump administration and the latest celebrity doings, a national strike is being totally ignored. The prison strike was called following the deaths of seven inmates at the Lee “Correctional” Institution in South Carolina that also left numerous inmates injured. Inmates at the Lee “Correctional” Institution reached out to inmates around the country calling for the organization of a nation wide prison strike to call attention to the horrific conditions in the US gulag system.
Contrary to popular misconception, prisons are not about rehabilitation, corrections or punishment; they are about social control and forced labor! Prisons have a sordid history in the formation of this country as many “colonists” were released from British prisons and sent to “the New World” to toil to enrich the monarchs and trading company partners and shareholders. “The British were noted for transported prisoners out of England to be made to work at their numerous colonies. From 1615 to 1870, more than 200,000 criminals were conditionally pardoned, exiled, and transported to penal colonies. Before 1775, more than 50,000 prisoners were sent to America—primarily to Virginia and Maryland. With the American Revolutionary War, then from 1788 to 1869, more than 160,000 prisoners were sent to the British Colony of Australia.” https://www.familytree.com/blog/british-convicts-in-american-colonies/
The British ruling class passed laws designed to create “criminals” they could then use to do their bidding. They passed the so called “enclosure laws” to clear and isolate land specifically for sheep growing. “As historian Howard Zinn wrote, ‘the development of commerce and capitalism in the 1500s and 1600s, the enclosing of land for the production of wool, filled the cities with vagabond poor.’ England dealt with the crisis much like contemporary America deals with our similar crisis of poverty, hunger, unemployment, and homelessness: by criminalizing the poor. In other words, making the conditions and social realities of poverty illegal in order to get people off the streets and warehoused in jails and poorhouses. Beginning in the mid-1550s, increasing numbers of laws were passed making it illegal for people to do much of what poor people generally did to survive. It became illegal to beg, it became illegal to sleep in the open (in other words, to be homeless), it became illegal to be ‘Minstrells wandring abroade,’ it even became illegal for ‘comon Labourers’ to refuse employment or to loiter while unemployed. In fact, a new category of criminal was created to deal with poor people: ‘rogues’ and ‘vagabonds’ If you were a woman, you ran the risk of all of the above plus being charged with ‘loose morals,’ especially if you were raped or accused of prostitution. And if you became pregnant without being married, you were arrested because having a child ‘out of wedlock’ was against the law, though only for the woman, not the man. In 1606, while all these ‘vagabonds,’ and ‘rogues,’ and homeless unemployed peasants were being imprisoned in increasingly overcrowded prisons and poorhouses, the new English colony of Virginia was established by the Virginia Company. But the company soon found they were having difficulty convincing people to sink their money into ship passage that equaled roughly half the average person’s annual income in order to work in a mosquito-ridden swamp. And the living conditions, according to economist David Galenson, were primitive camps under ‘quasi-military conditions’ with a ‘high rate of mortality and scanty food.’ What was worse, by 1612, the company’s colonial governor began dealing out harsh punishment for the workers who ran away and were recaptured. According to company documents: ‘Some he apointed to be hanged Some burned Some to be broken upon wheles, others to be staked and some to be shott to death.’ Hardly the best way to attract paying ‘investors’ in your swampland-in-Virginia scheme.” Indentured Servitude and the Prison Industrial Complex http://decolonizingourhistory.com/histories-2/indentured-servitude/indentured-servitude-really-in-depth/
Thus the British poverty to prison pipeline was established and this system spread when the Anglo Saxons invaded and occupied Ireland and the other isles. They firmly relocated this system in the “New World” colonies but had difficulty recouping their investment (the real reason for trading company colonization) because the whites were unproductive and physically too weak to survive the harsh conditions; so Africans were imported and British (and European) profitability skyrocketed!
Today the same MO and playbook continues. We are familiar with the post Civil War Black Codes and convict leasing practices; all forms of slavery. Today these policies and practices continue on steroids because prisons are highly profitable and they still fill the ruling class’ need for social control! https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/money.html, https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-prison-industry-in-the-united-states-big-business-or-a-new-form-of-slavery/8289
Conditions in US prisons have always been deplorable and this trend has escalated with the advent of private for profit prisons as numerous investigations and reports have revealed. http://theconversation.com/whats-hidden-behind-the-walls-of-americas-prisons-77282
This is why prisoners are engaged in a national prison strike. No nation on earth; not China not Russia imprisons more of its “citizens’ than the United States! Race and class are key determinants in who goes to prison. https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/un-report-on-racial-disparities/. Violence and brutality have always been endemic within the US colonial and national penal system and that tradition continues unabated today.
But news about the current prisoner strike is being suppressed by the corporate media. There has been scant coverage on the cable news giants and network “news”. We need to familiarize ourselves with the issues and why the strike is taking place. The strike is scheduled to end on September 9th. Please take time to review the facts at: https://www.blackagendareport.com/nationwide-prison-strike-set-august-21-september-9, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50196.htm and https://incarceratedworkers.org/campaigns/prison-strike-2018 to learn about their demands and how we can be supportive.
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