Mass Incarceration is the New Slavery: Part 1
The Drug War is a Conspiracy
There are people who believe in aliens, and people who believe the Bush family killed JFK. There are people who believe in conspiracy theories, and people who provide evidence to support claims. The following facts may be scary, but it is not theory. The following information is proven fact: The American prison system is used to control the lower class people of America and to fatten the pockets of immoral people through the war on drugs. Your brothers, husbands, nephews, cousins and uncles are being locked up and labeled as criminal to keep people rich and to maintain racial segregation.
Let’s start at the beginning
Richard Nixon began the war on drugs in 1968 and member of his staff John Ehrlichman has since admitted the war on drugs was meant to target black people (Duke, B., 1999). Ehrlichman said, “We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did” (1999). This practice continued into the Reagan presidency with his anti-drug campaign. This coincided with the CIA -while under Reagan’s control- bankrolling the Nicaraguan rebel group, The Contras, who brought cocaine to impoverished neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles. While everyone thinks the drug war started with crack cocaine in the 1980’s, it actually started years before the war could be justified, but because they needed more power, cocaine was dropped on the doorsteps of black folks. The drug war did not stop after the Reagan presidency either, instead it continues today with marijuana.
What does that mean today?
The racist system continues with the privatizing of prisons by the most corrupt and immoral contributor in the industry, the Corrections Corporation of America. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s annual CCA report 2014 states, “any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them” (2014). Of the 1.5 million people in state and federal prison in 2014, over 95,000 were in prison for a drug related offense which is a 500% increase over the last forty years which dates back to when the CCA was founded (2016). This increase can be attributed to lengthy prison sentences, not in the number of arrests (2014).
One might draw the conclusion the war on drugs could be abandoned 34 years later since it has failed to “reduce crime” and has been proven to be racist, but the CCA keeps pushing for more prisoners and more facilities to house them. According to the CCA’s 2014 Annual Report, “[they] have staff throughout the organization actively engaged in marketing [their] available capacity to existing and prospective customers” (2014). Does this mean the CCA is marketing to innocent civilians to book a stay at the lavish Federal Correctional Institution? No. It means they are lobbying to governors to grant contracts to take over prisons and pass legislation pushing for strict penalties against drug-related offenses.
How does this work financially?
According to a contract the CCA won in December of 2015 for a prison in Eloy, Arizona, the corporation will be paid $66.35 per day per inmate for a twenty year contract ($22 million annually), with a stipulation to keep 90% occupancy or taxpayers will have to pay for empty beds when the crime rate drops (Harris, C. 2015).
Yes, citizens pay for their good behavior. Your husband will go to prison because he was profiled, and if they can’t wrangle up enough husbands, they will make you pay for it. This is not a theory from the Tin Hat Club; this is a signed agreement between the state of Arizona and the CCA, which is just like the contracts signed for 88 facilities in other locations (2015).
Why we need to care:
Because the drug war has been used for decades to target men of color, women are effected too. We are directly effected because no one cares if a man or woman spends time in prison, as long as heads are in beds. Women feel the side effects of targeting black men because husbands are sent to prison. Your men are being sent to prison because the old Jim Crow was too blatant, and the new one is a sneaky snake marketed as “tough on crime”.
Statistics show one in three black men will go to prison in their lifetime. This is no conspiracy theory made up to garner views. To those caught in the system it is a factual nightmare ripping families apart. You can help by voting against “tough on crime” laws especially those in favor of harsh sentences for drug offenses and third strikes for non-violent offenses. Tweet your senator. Volunteer for the ACLU. Do anything, but please do not be in favor of generalized “tough on crime” laws. Uncles, brothers, cousins, fathers and sons are suffering, which means women are suffering too.
Be mindful, y’all.
Be on the lookout for part two: Mass Incarceration is the New Slavery: What it Means to be a Criminal.
The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations. (n.d.). Retrieved May 09, 2016, from http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/index.html
Corrections Corp. of America. (2014). Retrieved May 09, 2016, from http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1070985/000119312515061839/d853180d10k
Duke, B. (1999). Race and the War on Drugs. Poverty & Prejudice: Paradoxes of U.S. Drug Policies. Published by Stanford University. June 4, 1999
Federal Bureau of Prisons. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2016, from https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_age.jsp
Harris, C. (2015, December 17). Arizona awards 20-year private-prison contract to only bidder. Retrieved November 18, 2016, from http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/12/17/lucrative-private-prison-contract-goes-to-cca/77449748/