"All the World's a Stage We Pass Through" R. Ayana

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

America Behind Bars: the USA Prison State

America Behind Bars: the USA Prison State

The United States has more prisoners than any other country in the world: with approximately two million people behind bars, it holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, though it comprises only 5 percent of the world’s population. Imprisoning about 73 of every 1,000 people, the U.S. locks up a larger percentage of its population — six to 10 times more, in fact—than any other industrialized democracy (according to numerous sources this is a conservative underestimate – Ed).

According to a report by the Bureau of Justice (2000), the total number of men and women behind bars, on parole, and on probation has reached 6.3 million, more than three percent of the U.S. adult population.

Incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment

On June 30, 2004, there were 2,131,180 people in U.S. prisons and jails. That's a rise of 2.3% during the 12 previous months. Federal prisons are growing almost 5 times faster than state prison populations.

As of June 30, 2004, the U.S. incarceration rate was 726 per 100,000 residents. But when you break down the statistics you see that incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment.

U.S. incarceration rates by race, June 30, 2003:

* Whites: 376 per 100,000
* Latinos: 997 per 100,000
* Blacks: 2,526 per 100,000

Gender is an important "filter" on the who goes to prison or jail, June 30, 2004:

* Females: 123 per 100,000
* Males: 1,348 per 100,000

Look at just the males by race, and the incarceration rates become even more frightening, June 30, 2004:

* White males: 717 per 100,000
* Latino males: 1,717 per 100,000
* Black males: 4,919 per 100,000

If you look at males aged 25-29 and by race, you can see what is going on even clearer, June 30, 2004:

* For White males ages 25-29: 1,666 per 100,000.
* For Latino males ages 25-29: 3,606 per 100,000.
* For Black males ages 25-29: 12,603 per 100,000. (That's 12.6% of Black men in their late 20s)

Or you can make some international comparisons:
South Africa under Apartheid was internationally condemned as a racist society.

* South Africa under apartheid (1993), Black males: 851 per 100,000
* U.S. under George Bush (2004), Black males: 4,919 per 100,000

What does it mean that the leader of the "free world" locks up its Black males at a rate 5.8 times higher than the most openly racist country in the world?

Correctional officials see danger in prison overcrowding. Others see opportunity. The nearly two million U.S. citizens behind bars the majority of them nonviolent offenders mean jobs for depressed regions and windfalls for profiteers.

The prison industrial complex (PIC) is a complicated system situated at the intersection of governmental and private interests that uses prisons as a solution to social, political, and economic problems. The PIC depends upon the oppressive systems of racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia. It includes human rights violations, the death penalty, industry and labor issues, policing, courts, media, community powerlessness, the imprisonment of political prisoners, and the elimination of dissent.

References ....

*What is the Prison Industrial Complex?
*Incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment
*The Prison Industrial Complex

*American Prisons and Imprisonment (Year 2000) statistics

"The plight of prisoners in the USA is strikingly similar to the plight of the Iraqis who were abused by American GIs. Prisoners are maced, raped, beaten, starved, left naked in freezing cold cells and otherwise abused in too many American prisons, as substantiated by findings in many courts that prisoners' constitutional rights to remain free of cruel and unusual punishment are being violated."

 - From Attica to Abu Ghraib – and a Prison Near You

The latest statistics on the American prison system

200,000+ children are in juvenile detention centers and jails.

2 Million Americans are currently incarcerated in our prison system (that is approximately the size of the entire city of Soweto, South Africa)

1 out of every 75 men is currently incarcerated.

Sixty percent of all incarcerated for drug related crimes are first offenders.

[The US also has] the highest prison population in the world.

And 100% of those incarcerated are also at risk of being tortured in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States constitution, and many have been and are still victims of a brutal prison system, its tactics being implemented from Georgia, to California, to Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo.

The moral degradation and torture that occurred at Abu Ghraib prison and others in this "war on terror" (led by many who were and are also affiliated with the American prison system) at the hands of the U.S. military and the Pentagon is not new to the American prison system, nor should it be a shock to those who have researched this topic. This inhumane and unconstitutional treatment has been normal practice in the American prison system for decades.

Congress as recently as 1996, passed a bill (Prison Litigation Reform Act) in order to ensure that in most cases, those abused by this system do not receive compensation for their abuse. It would also now appear that by voting for Alberto Gonzales to be Attorney General and allowing Donald Rumsfeld to retain his position as Secretary of Defense, even after proof emerged that this procedure was OKed from the highest levels of our government, that our leaders also believe in violating the United States constitution, and in the torture and humiliation tactics employed in our own prisons and around the world that does nothing to further justice. This should not stand with Americans of conscience and morals.

This petition is then hereby written in order to protest against the unconstitutional, unAmerican, and inhumane treatment of those in our prison system, and to call for an investigation of such tactics by the Governors of all states, and to also recommend a revision of existing Federal sentencing standards in regards to first time drug use offenders. These procedures overcrowd our prisons, thus putting a tremendous strain on our budgets and robbing the lives of many of our young people who are ruined forever because of one mistake.

We are also protesting the unprofessional and deadly tactics implemented by Prison Health Systems, a company whose presence now in 36 states concerns us, based on a NY Times expose dated, February 27, 2005. We then request a thorough investigation into their practices by non-partisan state commissions in all states this company operates in, and for proper compensation to be made to the families of all of those who have lost loved ones in their care. We also applaud New York state for investigating these allegations, and call on all other states where this company operates to do the same.

Congress must also seriously consider legislation to repeal or at the very least fine tune the Prison Litigation Reform Act, in order to truly and fairly represent those prisoners who are unjustly and unconstitutionally attacked and tortured in regards to compensation, and to provide for proper medical attention to patients in our prisons, especially children and the mentally retarded who are too often silent victims.

We as American citizens can no longer sit by and watch while our fellow citizens are tortured and abused in a system based on political kickbacks and greed and say we have a soul. The time for action is now, and by signing this petition you tell all of those in Congress and our states who condone such behavior over the wellbeing of all of our citizens by looking the other way, that we will no longer tolerate torture in America.

The absolute lack of professionalism and ethics that have led to this country's prisons being no better in many instances than those in third world countries must be addressed. This isn't about defending criminals, this is about defending justice, dignity, and our children. It is unconscionable that this is being allowed to take place in our country. Profit should not come before people, as we are literally privatizing them to death. This goes against all we stand for as Americans in a country where the current leaders now talk about "compassion," but know absolutely nothing about it in practice. We demand change. We demand justice. We demand that our constitution be respected, and that those who violate it be made accountable for their actions.

One in every 32 adults in the United States was behind bars or on probation or parole by the end of 2001, according to a government report that found a record 6.6 million people in the nation's correctional system (last statistics available).

Growing at a rate of about 900 inmates each week between mid-2003 and mid-2004, the nation's prisons and jails held 2.1 million people, or one in every 138 U.S. residents.

Hundreds of new laws are being passed every year by city, county, state, and federal governmental institutions and we are told that ignorance of these laws is no excuse.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has projected that if current trends continue, one out of every three African American men born in 2001 will go to prison at some point during their lifetime.

Prison spending has increased five times as fast as education spending. Nearly 2 million voters are disenfranchised because they have felony records.

In 2001, nearly 6.6 million people were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole at year end. That number represents 3.1% of all U.S. adult residents or one in every 32 adults.

reference ...
*Prisons in America

A black male born in 1991 has an almost 1/3 chance of going to prison. Arrest rates for minorities went from under 600 per 100,000 in 1980 to over 1500 in 1990 while for whites they remained essentially the same.

Criminalizing & setting up the poor for prison
Prisons are big business. One of the
biggest money makers in the USA.

Video ....
*Scenes from the drug war Video

Former Military Police Officer Jailed for 17 Years Describes Routine Mistreatment and Brutality in U.S. Prisons:
Video ....

*Brutality in U.S. Prisons

Torture in American Prisons Standard Practice

Video ....
*Torture Inc
(scroll to bottom of page for video)

Warning - Graphic Violence Video ....
*No Escape Prison Videos

In the last 20 years the United States has built more prisons than any country during any period in history. The cost of the US criminal justice system now runs to $120 billion per year.

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