Tag Archives: Second

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

People of the World: Please Take Note! Where is your Conscience!

“Shattered Humanity on Move Again”

By Dr Ahmed H. Makhdoom

According to the Times Of India News: [“ AMRITSAR: As many as 600 Hindus, including women and children, arrived in India via Attari land border on Monday. Custom’s deputy commissioner RK Duggal said that the group arrived here on pilgrim visas. Sources at Attari said that these Hindus, largely from Sindh province of Pakistan, had expressed their desire to permanently settle in India and have come with a large quantity of luggage and household goods.” http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Large-contingent-of-Hindus-from-Pakistan-arrives-in-India/articleshow/9193434.cms]

This is absolutely sad, heart-breaking, heart-wrenching news! Why do the simple, innocent and peace-loving people be forced to take such painful and nerve-wrecking course in their life? Why do they have to resort to this tragic move of leaving their Motherland?

Why do they have to abandon and forsake their motherland where the ashes of their ancestors lay strewn in field, plains, hills and rivers! Why do they give up on their motherland, where the bones of their loved ones are entombed since centuries? Why do they have to take such a drastic action! Does the civilized world take note of such tragic, catastrophic and calamitous plight of desperate human beings?

Oh Prince! How can this maid ever abandon, Thought and yearning for my own kith and kin? Within heart and soul are love’s sharp skewers, Pierced inside me without blacksmith’s hammers; Darts and arrows coated with love and longing, Thousands of them my beloveds kept striking; Humble dwellings back home and kindred dears, Alas! This unfortunate maid had not seen for years.” (Shah Bhittai: Translated by Ahmed Makhdoom) (Note: In Bhittai’s epic ‘Umar Marvi;’ Soomra=the caste of Prince Umar, the ruler of Sindh)

Surely, it is not easy or joyful leaving ones beloved kindred folks, with whom they have spent years with love, happiness and mutual respect and admiration! Certainly, it is not pleasant to leave ones Motherland, where one had stayed since centuries! Really, there must be something wrong! Certainly, serious human rights violations must have taken place! Surely, the lives of these despondent people must have been at risk! Surely, these simpleton people must have been threatened, abused and vilified!

Where is the civilized world? Why they have shut their eyes to the sorrows and sufferings of human beings? Why the powerful countries, world’s human rights organizations, international social and welfare organizations and resourceful, potent and mighty individuals closed their ears to the cries of pain and anguish of these punctured, pushed and punched people?

This is a clear case of ethnic cleansing and serious human rights abuse perpetrated, planned and engineered by the policies of establishment. And, the children of the Soil leave, and Mother Sindh becomes dejected, demoralized, and depressed! And the Sons of the Soil in Sindh become extinct!

We demand immediate investigation into this very sad and sordid affair! We appeal and plead the World’s Human Rights Organisations, International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court and the United Nations Organisations to enquire from government officials about what is going on and why poor innocent people are being resorted to take such drastic action! The culprits who have been the cause of such a tragedy should be apprehended, tried and punished. Long Live Humanity!

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, 16 July, 2011

We need multiple measures to start a return: Mobarak Haider

by Waseem Altaf

The forces of chaos and disruption will not agree on anything less than absolute power. Unfortunately the world community will have to act. We are moving in a direction where our case might resemble that of Japan and Germany in Second World War

“Tragedies darken when their victims refuse to understand the causes. Intellectual failure has thus been the principle deficit; which means the so-called men of intellect are to blame” says Dr. Mobarak Haider. A political activist, scholar and renowned writer of English and Urdu, Dr. Mobarak Haidar was born and brought up in a traditional Muslim family of Pakistan. Mobarak received extensive Islamic education, graduated with Arabic. He earned his masters in English Literature, and taught in different colleges.

He was sent to jail several times by Pakistan’s Martial Law dictators as a political activist for democracy and human rights since 1967. Haider is member of HelpIntgrate, a group of activists working for the integration of Muslims with the modern societies. His books include ‘Tehzibi Nargasiat’ (Cultural Narcissism) and “Taliban: The Tip of A Holy Iceberg”. Excerpts:

Do you agree that Pakistani state as well as society is degenerating? If yes, what are the indicators?

Yes, unfortunately, that is true. The indicators are: 1) Rapid Ideological drift of vocal and dominant classes to a medieval concept of governance and society, 2) Ever-hardening ban on dialogue and debate, even organised physical elimination of dissent, 3) Chaotic exclusiveness in personal and institutional conduct, 4) Absense of the will or willingness to negotiate that chaotic exclusiveness, 5) Wild growth of armed non-state forces, 6) Paralysis of the state and society’s will to fight these forces, 7) Free fall of economy, incorrigible energy crisis, and an ever-deepening indifference of the state and its institutions toward economic and intellectual problems, 8) Systematic erosion of trust and prestige of democracy and political institutions, 9) A foreign policy of self-righteous isolation leading to a potential suicide blast, 10) Absence of a leadership with vision and prestige enough to halt the disaster. …

Read more → ViewPoint

Let’s germinate like Germany did

– Muhammad Shoaib Akif

President Asif Ali Zardari will continue to face a difficult, and at times war-like, situation through such media debates which rather look like trials. The participants in the debates usually are the beneficiary of the system that speaks volumes about an ever-untold truth that is about human relationships that are determined by economy and security. President Zardari is in a struggle to change the system. Since he means economy and security for all, and not for only a few hundred thousand elitist Pakistanis, he would continue to face resistance. What does security and economy here in Pakistan for everyone mean? Moreover, what if these two entities are not achieved justifiably with the reasons quite understandable even to an illiterate and what is not happening here for more than 63 years? Last but not the least, who will help us achieve these utmost requirements and how? Let’s have one of the pertinent examples say of Germany to find the answer. Germany acted rationally after experiencing almost total devastation caused by its expansionist policies during Second World War 63 years ago. Germans did not raise another army; it raised its economic structure through social democracy. And that enabled Germany make its citizens secure both socially and economically. To Germans security and economy of an individual is security of state itself. The people out there do not need thousands of judges and generals because a responsible bureaucracy, which is much smaller than ours, does its job amicably under the guidance of political government. Germens do not have to pay almost 10 billion US$ to keep only their not-awfully over-sized army and administration happy every year as we do here. Although their differences between expenditures and income may be in hundreds of US$ billion yet the differences are not mere due to their spending on their army and administration but on employed and unemployed citizens living therein. Germany makes her citizens secure both socially and economically and in turn the citizens show a paramount patriotism and protect the state also simply because the state does best possible justice with them. None can refute a recent example when world economic recession had just started off to effect Germany; it were the elites of Germany who asked their state publicly to tax them more than what their common citizens paid. In fact, almost all the citizens work, produce and pay taxes willingly and thus increase the income of the state to be spent back on them in various ways later in shape of social and economic security. To them and rightly so: security and economy of an individual is the security of state itself. …

Read more : The Frontier Post