Comments

1
thanks for the coverage. please keep us posted.
2
if you ever need proof of how retarded, hypocritical and hollow most progressives are look no further than the prison labor complex. There are more black men enslaved in US prisons today than there were enslaved at the HEIGHT of slavery in this country. Include the mexicans [slaving both in and out of the prison system] and things today are immeasurably worse than at any point in US history.
3
Its disturbing that people have to go to this extent to be treated with basic dignity, in a so called "civilized" country.

I wouldn't treat my dog like this, why do we think it is ok to treat people this way?

4
@2 - If by "immeasurably" you mean you can't be bothered to look up the actual measurements about quality of life. Also, what does this have to do with liberals?
5
Prison labor is, I believe, the biggest and most shocking scandal waiting to burst like a pus-filled boil in the country. It's slavery, pure and simple, and in fact the system has its roots in slavery, built to replace the loss of free labor after emancipation. In fact, real emancipation of the slaves wasn't complete until the 1940s (read Douglas Blackmon's "Slavery By Another Name" to see why), and in recent years, with the ascendancy of a new kind of smiling white supremacy that promotes "private prisons" (i.e., slave encampments) while wearing suits and ties instead of a plantation overseer's whip, has taken hold across the country.

Increasingly, "made in USA" means "made by prisoners". All office furniture made in the US is made by forced labor in prisons; so is most of the body armor worn by US soldiers. Prison labor is now America's second largest employer, after General Motors. Your clothes quite possibly came from a prison. The list is extensive, and virtually every company you've ever heard of uses it -- Boeing, Nordstrom, and Microsoft just in the US make extensive use of prison labor.

Some of these striking California prisoners were previously involved in a scheme to remove "made in Honduras" tags from clothing and sew on "made in USA" -- this being the only value-added provided in this country, but enough to satisfy the law.

Prison labor is used to keep work in the US, by undercutting even sweatshop labor in other countries like Mexico and China. People get excited about what goes on in Foxconn, but that's a paradise compared to what happens just down the road in the US.

This is one of the major policy initiatives of the GOP, and is far more prevalent in GOP-controlled states. Wisconsin, South Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Georgia -- everybody loves free labor!

And if you don't have enough prisoners, just go out and get some! Laws are specially constructed to ensure that healthy young black men are guilty of a crime, some crime, from the day they are born, and if they aren't, they'll find SOMETHING. We need to get those strong boys in there making wiring harnesses for jets or cleaning up oil spills for BP. You don't think we should PAY people for that, do you?
6
The state of our nation's prisons has fallen so low that I say our society would enjoy a net benefit from scrapping the system completely. I say open all the cells! Break every chain! Put all those highly secure bricks and mortar facilities to constructive use.
7
" I say open all the cells!"

As long as the residents move to your neighborhood.
8
And speaking of Cali prisons:

http://cironline.org/reports/female-inma…

Female inmates sterilized in California prisons without approval
9
@4 "quality of life" for a rapidly shrinking portion of the population? Wealth gap widening for 40 yrs straight, mental illness and suicide nearly doubled since 1960 [in urban areas] ? The only improvement is that you have the option of being plugged in for your final 15; everything else is in decline.
Oh, you meant "quality of life" for the slaves? True, there isnt as much literal whipping going on these days.
10
The "Gang Status" business (point two) is far more important than most people realize. Shane Bauer wrote a terrific (and terrifying) article for Mother Jones last year about the Kafkaesque process by which Gang Status and other determinations are made and result in decades of unjustified (and unnecessary, and expensive) solitary confinement in California's prisons.
11
@ 5, the potential for scandal is there, but given the average American's absolute antipathy for prisoners, I doubt people are really going to be outraged upon learning this. Prisoners have long been regarded as only good for slave labor.
12
Prison labor is now America's second largest employer, after General Motors.


Third largest, I'm pretty sure-- the federal government is still the largest employer in the US.

But yes, sweet baby Jesus yes, do we ever need to overhaul our prison system. And our attitude toward incarceration-- the widespread sentiment that prison ought to be primarily punitive (n.b. any prison rape joke) is miles away from the crumbling idea that prison ought to be a preventive or corrective measure.
13
"He said that some leaders of major prison gangs, including the Black Guerilla Family, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Norteños, and the Sureños have agreed to cease hostilities in preparation for the strikes."

Uh, here's an idea: how about they cease hostilities just for the sake of, you know, being decent human beings. Then we wouldn't need all these prisons.
14
I'm surprised how little media coverage there is of prisoner issues, given the number of families lives affected by the justice system. I hope this gets extensive attention and doesn't prove simply indicative of so many people's overall lack of empathy, which is what I'm a little afraid of.
15
@9 - There we go. Now how about that other part where @2 somehow made this the doing of liberals.
16
Prison labor is, I believe, the biggest and most shocking scandal waiting to burst like a pus-filled boil in the country. It's slavery, pure and simple

Hey genius, did you ever read the 13th amendment? Can you read?
17
There are more black men enslaved in US prisons today than there were enslaved at the HEIGHT of slavery in this country.

Not to bring arithmetic into this, but do you think it might be connected to the fact that there are 12 times as many blacks now than there were in the 1860s? Or is counting racist now too?
18
13, wow. what an insight. "let's all just live together in peace & harmony." with such mental prowess as that, how come you're not president?
19
@16, hey, halfwit, have you ever read the Blackmon book I cited? If you think slavery ended with the 13th Amendment, you're out of your cotton-pickin' mind.

Even leaving aside prisons, there are thousands of girls working in sex slavery, and thousands of agricultural workers held against their will, working 90+ hours a week in absurdly hostile conditions (having pesticide sprayers fly directly overhead dousing them with poison, for instance), and not receiving pay. What would you call it? The US Department of Justice calls it "slavery, plain and simple". But it is widespread.

Can I read? For fuck's sake. You're a fucking pinhead.
20
@7, Honestly, given the average character of the average prisoner, I wouldn't think twice. And not just because there's a constantly manned police sub-station at the public park about a block from where I park my red Toyota.

The vast, vast majority of convicted felons you'll meet are decent folks who ran into the downside of Anatole France's observation on the "majestic equality" of the law (that neither the rich nor the poor may sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, or steal loaves of bread).

They're no worse than you.
21
@19, prison slavery is perfectly legal.

Amendment XIII

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


You're a hipster dork. Go pick apples.
22
@21, I'm the farthest thing from a hipster you could possibly imagine. And you haven't read the Blackmon book -- though you nicely encapsulate the arguments used to defend debt peonage and other forms of legal slavery throughout the history of the US. You could start with Bailey v. Alabama, if that's not too hard.

Must be nice in Mississippi this time of year. Fucklip.
23
@5: Strict UNICOR and FPI rules dictate that prisoner-made items can only be sold to the federal government. Is this rule no longer enforced, or are some prisons simply exempt from them? Or are they simply not operating under UNICOR, which would make them seemingly illegal anyway?

All my quick Googling suggests that these prisons still have to abide by this rule. Do you have any links for the claim that so many of these products are being sold to private interests?
24
@23, Unicor only applies to federal prisoners. State prisoners are fair game. The rules changed in 1979 and have been snowballing ever since.

Here are some links to get you started:

The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor (http://www.thenation.com/article/162478/…)

Corporate Con Game: How the Private Prison Industry helped shape Arizona's anti-immigrant law (http://inthesetimes.com/article/6084/cor…)

21st Century Slaves: How Corporations Exploit Prison Labor (http://www.alternet.org/story/151732/21s…)

What Do Prisoners Make for Victoria's Secret? (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008…)

25
Fnarf, ask me if I give a shit. Someine wrote about prisons as slavery, and I replied that prison slavery is perfectly legal. I really don't need any further lectures, because I'm exactly correct. The 13th amendment explicit permits involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime. If you don't like it, fine. But it's legal, you hipster fuckup.
26
@25 I guess I'd be a little mad if I got called "fucklip", too. Maybe try reading a book or two. ;)
27
@25 - There is a difference between "legal" and "an okay thing to do as human beings".
28
The 13th Amendment is not the be-all and end-all of jurisprudence. There are other clauses and amendments, too, and 800 years of case law to play with as well. The Constitution is also not a lookup table, "look here, it sez X". Your understanding is flawed, and it is flawed because you are a ignorant, soulless, profoundly defective human being.

Books have been written about the 13th Amendment, how it came about, and what it means. In particular, how the amendment was inspired by and guided the Black Laws, Jim Crow, the convict leasing system and the entire system of labor in the South in particular. You have not read any of those books, nor will you ever. Pity.

Since you are incapable of reading Blackmon, I'll summarize it for you.

The lie in American jurisprudence is that prison is punishment for crime. Prisoners have been found guilty of crimes, and if the state wants to use their labor while they're inside, they can. But the reality is, prison is primarily a tool for collecting and dispensing the labor of the underclass, since the previous system, slavery, was abolished. The procedure throughout the South was to imprison able-bodied young black men and then sell their labor to private companies.

You could be imprisoned for virtually ANYTHING; a black man walking on the road or sitting on a bench in a train station was guilty of a crime. The only time a black man was not guilty of a crime was when he was at work in the fields of a white man; even in his home, the law could come and take him.

Once taken, his trial would incur court costs, which no black man was able to pay, so off to county jail he would go. Until that debt was paid, he remained there, which in practice meant forever.

Then, companies would contact the county sheriff and place an order for labor, and the sheriff would supply it, for a price: pay his court costs. The company would pay the money and take the man. And of course every day the man would accrue a further debt of a dollar more than he earned, and he could not be freed until the debt was paid. The debt was never allowed to be paid. The man was never freed.

This system prevailed throughout the South until the 1940s. Since then, a new system has been developed which avoids the worst legal liability of debt peonage, but with other features designed to ensure a constant supply of free labor. The Drug War, the increase in immigrants without legal protection -- all of this was designed to create a workforce that could be controlled by governments and private companies working together.

Since in modern America a prison record renders one unemployable, once you're in, you're always in, even if you're out. More than half of the people in prisons are not guilty of anything in the first place; they're there to provide free labor. States have turned over the operations of prisons to private companies, who are clearinghouses for slave labor.

This is not what the Thirteenth Amendment meant, and you know it. Or maybe you don't. Are you stupid, or evil? Must be one or the other.
29
Prisoners have been found guilty of crimes, and if the state wants to use their labor while they're inside, they can.

You really buried that, didn't you? What's so hard about admitting that someone else is correct? I didn't make a big point in my original post, only a small one: That prison slavery is perfectly legal. Whether we ought to do it is another matter. There are arguments on both sides of that one. But don't sit there and tell me it's not legal. It's perfectly legal, and directly authorized by the 13th amendment, you typically self-righteous, lying, slimy little smug Seattle weasel.
30
@28,

Why not both?
31
p.s.: As far as the abuses go, yes I am aware of them. Read the 13th Amendment a few more times. There is one word that covers everything you cited. See if you can find it, Poindexter.
32
Those five demands seem pretty reasonable to me. I'd also back making sex offender/drug abuse rehab programs available to prisoners who behave themselves and demonstrate that they need the help.
33
@31, I already used the word to describe you. Fucklip.

Your understanding of the Thirteenth Amendment is nil.

Maybe you can shine your light on the Eighth.

And you claim to be "aware" of the abuses, but not of the fact that the entire system depends on an abuse, particularly of that word "duly", which in practice means "whenever we want". Especially now that large parts of the prison system have been turned over to private corporations earning massive profits. I don't see that anywhere in the 13th.

No one is disputing that government prisons can compel inmates to work. But using prison inmates' labor to replace private labor in order to undermine the wage system in the broader society isn't in there; when the GOAL of the prison system is not to remove criminals but to kidnap them and profit from their labor -- that's not in the amendment.

Nice handwaving, though. Asshole. Mighty pro-slavery white supremacist asshole, hiding behind a document you have no understanding of. You're awfully proud, aren't you?
34
Nice handwaving, though. Asshole. Mighty pro-slavery white supremacist asshole, hiding behind a document you have no understanding of. You're awfully proud, aren't you?

Oh, I'd say when it comes to pride, you've got me beat by a long shot. As for "pro-slavery," only as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, and without regard for the party's race. I understand the constitution quite well, as you well know and have now explicitly acknowledged by confirming my understanding of the 13th amendment.

The rest? So many smug farts in the wind from you.
35
@21: Irrelevant. Offenders are sentenced to imprisonment, not slavery.
36
I'll never forget the first time I saw a chain gang.
37
Fnarf @24: thanks for the links. Quite a bit of reading, and the first one made my head spin, but thanks. There is some seriously fucked up shit going on.
38
Well, system seems to be working. Crime is at its lowest in decades.
39
My buddy Peijman is drumming for 24 hours straight in a feat of solidarity!
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/satya-sena
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/65666518…
40
@35, an inmate can be required to work.
41
http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/cri…

The FBI (the people who track crime statistics)strongly cautions against @38 making assumptions without taking into consideration all of the factors that affect crime rates:

Until data users examine all the variables that affect crime in a town, city, county, state, region, or other jurisdiction, they can make no meaningful comparisons.


The Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=daaSearc… provides tools useful in debate whenever someone tosses out the casual "crime rates are down, so we must be doing something right" canard.

The Washington Post recently published a story on how crime statistic reporting can go wrong:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con…

42
You are mis-reporting the story a little. The hunger strike isn't about the SHU inmates alone, that is a VERY SMALL PART. The only part that CDCR wants reported. They are protesting other vital things such as the DENIAL OF FAMILY VISITS TO ALL LIFERS, the manipulation of food portion sizes, the excessive force used on inmates, etc.
43
@40: Only if they were sentenced to penal labor. If they were sentenced to imprisonment alone, doing prison work is entirely their choice.
44
@43, my point is that inmates can legally be required to work if they are duly convicted of a crime. That is all I have ever argued here, much to the denial and drama of the bedwetters around here.

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