July 25, 2005
Forward courtesy of Rick Stanley
History teaches us that slavery was abolished in the United
States after the Civil War. History has taught us wrong. Slavery was never
abolished in the United States. Go ahead, take a look at the Constitution.
The 13th Amendment reads as follows: "Neither slavery nor involuntary
servitude except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have
been duly convicted shall exist within the United States." That means
that if you've been convicted of a crime, you are legally allowed to be
The prison industrial complex is big business in this country,
and the U.S. government and corporations are reaping the rewards. Private
companies are not only operating prisons but are also using prisoners as
workers without paying wages, a practice known as slavery. The largest private
prison operator is called Correction Corporations of America; it operates
over 30 prisons nationwide (a number that will soon double when every state
prison in Tennessee goes private).
Prison bonds provide a lucrative return for capitalist investors.
The following are just a fraction of the companies using slave labor: IBM,
Motorola, Compaq, Texas Instruments, Honeywell, Microsoft, Boeing, Revlon,
Chevron, TWA, Victoria's Secret, Eddie Bauer, K-mart, J.C. Penny, and McDonald's.
Products bought by the U.S government are bought from UNICOR, which is the
trade name for Federal Prisons Industries. Yes, prisoners even build desks
for members of Congress. UNICOR proudly displays on its web site that it
is "where the government shops first." This isn't about making
the streets safe; it's about money and a never-ending supply of cheap labor.
State corrections agencies are advertising their prisoners
to the corporations: "Are you experiencing high employee turnover?
Worried about the costs of employee benefits? Unhappy with out-of-state
or offshore suppliers? Getting hit by overseas competition? Having trouble
motivating your workforce? Thinking about expansion space? Then Washington
State Department of Corrections Private Sector Partnerships is for you."
When Reagan became president, there were 400,000 prisoners in the United
States. Today the number stands at over 2 million. Before you start thinking
about those "violent" people, listen to some facts: In federal
prisons, only 2.4 percent of the prisoners are there for violent crimes.
It took 150 years for California to build 10 state prisons.
But the state has built 21 prisons in the last 10 years alone (only one
state university has been built in that time) and this trend isn't stopping.
With the three strikes law in effect, the state estimates
it will have to build 20 more prisons over the next 10 years. Where does
racism come into view? Seventy percent of those being sentenced under the
three strikes law in California are people of color. And nationally, 39
percent of African American men in their 20s are in prison, on probation,
or on parole. White people make up 82 percent of the nation's population,
yet prisons house 72 percent people of color. What we need to do is wake
up and realize that there aren't 2 million people in prison to "make
the country safe." They're there to provide a service - their labor.
Let's call them what they are: slaves.
All information posted on this web site is
the opinion of the author and is provided for educational purposes only.
It is not to be construed as medical advice. Only a licensed medical doctor
can legally offer medical advice in the United States. Consult the healer
of your choice for medical care and advice.