Tag Archives: prisons

The United States of Prisons

21st-Century Slaves: How Corporations Exploit Prison Labor

In the eyes of the corporation, inmate labor is a brilliant strategy in the eternal quest to maximize profit.

By Rania Khalek

There is one group of American workers so disenfranchised that corporations are able to get away with paying them wages that rival those of third-world sweatshops. These laborers have been legally stripped of their political, economic and social rights and ultimately relegated to second-class citizens. They are banned from unionizing, violently silenced from speaking out and forced to work for little to no wages. This marginalization renders them practically invisible, as they are kept hidden from society with no available recourse to improve their circumstances or change their plight.

They are the 2.3 million American prisoners locked behind bars where we cannot see or hear them. And they are modern-day slaves of the 21st century.

Incarceration Nation

It’s no secret that America imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in history. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, the US currently holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. “In 2008, over 2.3 million Americans were in prison or jail, with one of every 48 working-age men behind bars,” according to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research(CEPR). That doesn’t include the tens of thousands of detained undocumented immigrants facing deportation, prisoners awaiting sentencing, or juveniles caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline. Perhaps it’s reassuring to some that the US still holds the number one title in at least one arena, but needless to say the hyper-incarceration plaguing America has had a damaging effect on society at large.

The CEPR study observes that US prison rates are not just excessive in comparison to the rest of the world, they are also “substantially higher than our own longstanding history.” The study finds that incarceration rates between 1880 and 1970 ranged from about “100 to 200 prisoners per 100,000 people.” After 1980, the inmate population “began to grow much more rapidly than the overall population and the rate climbed from “about 220 in 1980 to 458 in 1990, 683 in 2000, and 753 in 2008.”

The costs of this incarceration industry are far from evenly distributed, with the impact of excessive incarceration falling predominantly on African-American communities. Although black people make up just 13 percent of the overall population, they account for 40 percent of US prisoners. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), black males are incarcerated at a rate “more than 6.5 times that of white males and 2.5 that of Hispanic males and “black females are incarcerated at approximately three times the rate of white females and twice that of Hispanic females.”

Michelle Alexander points out in her book The New Jim Crow that more black men “are in prison or jail, on probation or on parole than were enslaved in 1850.” Higher rates of black drug arrests do not reflect higher rates of black drug offenses. In fact, whites and blacks engage in drug offenses, possession and sales at roughly comparable rates. ….

Read more » AlterNet

The newspaper is afraid to name the MQM terrorist attack (instead talk of the party that controls Karachi!). The police are being pressured to release those arrested in the attack. MQM is running torture cells and prisons of its own, and the MQM killed police officers who did their duty to curb MQM’s terrorism in 1990s. So cops are scared!

– Bus attack: Can the Sindh police fight back? Yes, they say, but only criminals, not politics

SINDH – KARACHI: The killing of four policemen in Korangi on August 20 by suspected hitmen belonging to a political party has not only further dampened the morale of the force, but some senior officers went as far as to call it the final nail on the coffin of their independence.

(Read: The case continues: Man shot dead before bus attack)

“We always took care not to touch their [political party] people,” said a senior police officer, who did not want to be named. “But even then our personnel have been targeted and killed.”

The visibly depressed officer said that to add salt to fresh wounds, the force is being pressured to release the suspects in their custody. At least a dozen men, including four belonging to a political party, were caught.

The state of affairs is such that from a constable to the highest ranking officer, no one is prepared to take any action against the target killers even if they see the crime taking place in front of their very own eyes. “How can they do anything at all in this climate of fear?” asked the officer. “Even before the Chakra Goth incident, everyone in the force knew that all police officers who played an instrumental role in the 1990s were knocked off one by one.”

Another senior police officer admitted to feeling ashamed when he had to face his men. “The problem is simple,” he said. “The attackers not only belong to the parties currently in power in the Sindh government, but also among the undisputed rulers of this city.” He listed the numerous torture cells operating in the city under the banner of political parties. “Some even have proper lock-ups like the ones we have here, with space to accommodate a dozen hostages.” But when asked whether he would raid any such cells, he retorted, “Are you mad?”

The junior police officers, however, criticise their police leadership for lacking spine. “They fear being transferred and losing their perks if they work against the wishes of a political party,” said one head moharrar, whose job is to run a police station. A police inspector who was injured during an attack in the recent past, says that to date he hasn’t received the compensation promised by the government. “These senior police officials don’t even come to the funeral ceremonies of some of our men, so what can we expect from them?” he said. Police officials say the only option to save the Sindh police is to give them a ‘free hand’ and complete independence from the influence of political parties. But can this happen soon or anytime at all? A senior police officer put it plainly: “I don’t think so…I’ve lost all hope that things will improve.”

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2011.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/237339/bus-attack-can-the-sindh-police-fight-back-yes-they-say-but-only-criminals-not-politics/

→ News sdopted from facebook