America incarcerates more people today then at the height of Stalinist Russia’s gulag system. Is it because crime and terror is rolling through American cities? Not according to the most recent numbers. Violent crime rates have dropped since 1990 yet incarceration rates have increased substantially. The incarceration rate—the number of prisoners per 100,000 population—increased by two-thirds between 1990 and 2008, from 461 to 787.  According to  Bureau of Justice Statistics only ten percent of Americas prisoners are held in Federal prisons. Of those that are in federal prisons more then half are their for dug offences.

The DEA has a 2.3 Billion dollar budget that targets lower class communities who happen to have larger concentrations of non white people. This leads to disproportionately higher incarceration rates for non whites even though whites use drugs at the same levels as non whites. (1)

“African Americans in particular are over-represented in prisons; though they are 13percent of the population, they made up 38 percent of the population of state prisons in 2011. The crimes that landed them there, however, are not too different from their white and Hispanic counterparts. Eighteen percent of blacks in state prisons were convicted of drug crimes, compared to 15 percent of whites and 17 percent of Hispanics. That doesn’t mean that one common complaint—that though whites and blacks use drugs at similar rates, blacks are much more likely to be arrested for it—isn’t true, because it is. But blacks are also more likely to be arrested for other crimes. Blacks and Hispanics are slightly more likely than whites to be convicted of violent crimes, while whites are slightly more likely to be convicted of property crimes like burglary, larceny, and car theft. But the leading violent crime that lands blacks in prison is robbery, while the leading violent crime for whites is rape or sexual assault. More than twice as many blacks are in state prison for robbery as for rape, while for whites the proportions are reversed (see Table 10 here)”.  (2)

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              China has a huge prison population coming in at an estimated 2,500,00 yet it is one of the safest countries to travel around in. Their prisoners are mostly political and from smaller marginalized communities. (3)

In Russia during the Gulag years, the secret police would show up and coerce a signed “confession” from the individual. America does the same thing but it’s called a “plea bargain”. Their are so many cases to be tried in the U.S. that D.A.’s  threaten the individual with a draconian amount of prison time if they fight the charges which intimidates individuals to agree to a plea bargain.

In California, the prison industry is politically connected because of the prison/police lobby. “The union spent $7 million on last year’s elections, and of the 107 candidates it endorsed, 104 were elected.”  The prison guard’s union has helped build the prison industrial complex over the last 30 years and these unions largely support the Democratic party. From 1980 to 2000, California built 23 new prison facilities. There are now 33 state prisons, not counting federal prisons, county jails and juvenile facilities. (4)

The United States, Russia and China have different political ideologies but their governments FUNCTION the same way. They are repressive, coercive and violent.

As City University of New York political scientist Daniel DiSalvo noted in an article he wrote in 2010, “The Trouble with Public Sector Unions” (National Affairs, Fall 2010)

“When it comes to advancing their interests, public-sector unions have significant advantages over traditional unions. For one thing, using the political process, they can exert far greater influence over their members’ employers — that is, government — than private-sector unions can. Through their extensive political activity, these government-workers’ unions help elect the very politicians who will act as “management” in their contract negotiations — in effect handpicking those who will sit across the bargaining table from them, in a way that workers in a private corporation (like, say, American Airlines or the Washington Post Company) cannot.”

Part of the FUNCTION of the State is to generate tax dollars dedicated to the expansion and maintenance of the Prison Incarceration Complex. It also insures perpetual job security and the pensions that go along with retirement benefits. But like any other State institution it is not capable of reforming itself  because of how the system is structured.  Both state and federal prison programs are growing. President Obama’s 2013 budget request for Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) totals $6.9 billion which reflects an increase of $278 million (4.2 percent) from last years budget.  The 2014 California prison budget is $8,961,368,000 for state prisons not counting what is spent here on Federal prisons. The California prison union collects from its members monthly dues of about $80, which raise some $23 million a year. Of that amount the union “allocates approximately $8 million to lobbying”. California state prison guards won a guarantee that they will be used if the state leases a private prison in California City, one of the options Brown will present to federal judges who have ordered him to alleviate crowding.

“But with Gov. Jerry Brown now pushing a plan to expand the prison system even further, many observers believe that the California Correctional Peace Officers Association bears some responsibility.”

Brown unveiled his prison plan last week at a Sacramento press conference, standing with Jimenez and leaders of several other law enforcement groups, as well as the state’s top Republican legislators and Democratic House Speaker John A. Perez.

“His plan, which calls for the temporary expansion of the prison system’s capacity by thousands of beds over the next two years, is meant to allow California to comply with a federal court order aimed at easing overcrowding in the state’s jam-packed prisons. ”  (5)

So between the Democrats building the prisons, the Republicans with their “tough on crime” and with both parties supporting the “war on drugs” the U.S. now incarcerates more people then any other country in the world.

“They have increased tenfold the number of inmates in prison, they have increased exponentially the number of prisons, they have backed numerous draconian laws to ensure that more and more people go to prison for longer and longer for doing less and less.”

“The prison union have also leaned on politicians to ensure that only district attorneys are appointed as judges. Thus, the judiciary is filled with law enforcement, with an agenda of putting away as many people as possible, no matter how much we have to subvert the laws to do it.”  (6)

“Absent state revenue increases, raising prison guard compensation necessarily means trimming provisions for other state employees and services. Citing this, the LAO tentatively recommended rejecting the employee contracts negotiated in early 2011. Ignoring the recommendation, the California Legislature approved the contracts. Three months later, the Governor and the Legislature passed a budget that issued major cuts to K-12 and higher education.”  L.A. Times

In 2009 the Congressional Black Caucus sent out a letter to community leaders requesting their input in regards to community problems. The letter listed 35 topics it thought important but the one topic missing was the criminal justice system and the high incarceration rates of black males. Why? Because prison guard/police unions helped elect them and therefore are indirectly controlling the conversation.

In California Congressional Black Caucus member Karen Bass (D) recently worked to change legislation on behalf of lobbyists. 

“In response to lobbying from law enforcement, Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, added a provision that invalidates any recommendation by the sentencing commission that does not have the approval of two commissioners that are from law enforcement. And there may be more changes before the week’s out.”

“When we arrive at a responsible plan that can earn the support of the majority of the Assembly and makes sense to the people of California,” Bass said in a statement, “we will take that bill up on the Assembly floor.”
The changes have already attracted the wrath of criminal defense attorneys.”

“This amendment will eliminate any independence of the proposed sentencing commission,” Ted Cassman, president of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, said in a statement. “A single interest group should not be able to hold sentencing reform hostage in California. (7)

“As the number of prisoners and correctional facilities has exploded, so has the number of prison guards. It is estimated that there are 454,000 prison guards in the U.S., and as their numbers increase so do their salaries.” (8)

The prison system is just part of the Leviathan and when you consider how the State functions, with funds targeting particular areas and groups, with political  groups lobbying  the State for perpetual expansion, you begin to see the form of oppression we live under. When you consider the trillions spent on the military, the N.S.A., the Department of Defense and its related the Intelligence agencies, what emerges is a picture of a system that cannibalizes its own at home as well as an empire spawning violence world wide.

Abolish Leviathan and the world will be safer for it and our communities will be free from incarceration.


 

1.  http://www.deatargetsamerica.com/

2. http://prospect.org/article/six-charts-explain-why-our-prison-system-so-insane

3.  http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/countries/asia-and-the-pacific/china

4.  http://fairchanceproject.com/news/video-prison-guards-union-links-campaign-donations-new-contract

5.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/09/california-prison-guards_n_3894490.html

6.  http://stihttp://capitalresearch.org/2011/10/the-price-of-prison-guard-unions-2/nkyonion.com/?p=400#sthash.banPQqqQ.dpuf

7.  http://www.cacj.org/documents/Assembly%20Makes%20Heavy.pdf

8. http://capitalresearch.org/2011/10/the-price-of-prison-guard-unions-2/

 

 

Bald Prison Inmates Marching in Yard