Tag Archives: prison-industrial complex

Prisoner strike exposes an age old American reliance on forced labor

American slavery was technically abolished in 1865, but a loophole in the 13th Amendment has allowed it to continue “as a punishment for crimes” well into the 21st century. Not surprisingly, corporations have lobbied for a broader and broader definition of “crime” in the last 150 years. As a result, there are more (mostly dark-skinned) people performing mandatory, essentially unpaid, hard labor in America today than there were in 1830.
Photo: Return to Now

Calvin Schermerhorn, Arizona State University

Prisoners in 17 states and several Canadian provinces are on strike in protest of prison labor conditions.

Their demonstrations are compelling Americans to understand that some everyday foods are produced behind bars, for cents on the hour, in a system many call “modern slavery.” Prisoners in the U.S. harvest and process eggs, orange juice, ground beef and fish. They also staff call centers, fight wildfires and make sugar.

For this work, they receive, on average, 86 cents a day, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, an advocacy group. Continue reading

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Demanding Wide-Reaching Reforms and an End to Slavery, Inmates in 17 States Plan Prison Strike

“Every single field and industry is affected on some level by prisons, from our license plates to the fast food that we eat to the stores that we shop at.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-18-2018

Supporters of Florida’s prison strike in January. (Photo: @IWW_IWOC/Twitter)

Incarcerated Americans in at least 17 states will go on strike this coming week, refusing to perform labor and engaging in sit-ins and hunger strikes to demand major reforms to the country’s prison and criminal justice systems.


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Putting Common Good Over Billionaires and War Profiteers, House Progressives Introduce “People’s Budget”

The Congressional Progressive Caucus’ plan “invests in our neglected infrastructure, ends the systematic inequality in our tax system by making corporations pay their fair share, and stops the rising cost of drugs.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-24-2018

“The People’s Budget embodies that new vision by investing in the interests of the people over the interests of the arms industry and the billionaire class,” Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, noted in a statement on Tuesday. (Photo: Congressional Progressive Caucus)

Offering an ambitious alternative to the House GOP’s “morally bankrupt” 2019 budget proposal—which demands over $5 trillion in cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, and other life-saving programs—the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) on Tuesday unveiled a budget that calls for massive investments in infrastructure, healthcare, and education while proposing significant cuts to the completely “out-of-control” Pentagon budget.

Titled The People‘s Budget: A Progressive Path Forward (pdf), the CPC’s plan also calls for a ban on “any expansion of U.S. combat troops in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, and many other countries,” demanding an immediate end to “the policy of funding endless wars.” Continue reading

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‘A Call to End Slavery’: Nationwide Prison Strike Kicks Off

‘When we remove the economic motive and grease of our forced labor from the U.S. prison system, the entire structure…must shift to accommodate us as humans’

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-9-2016

Angola Prison, Louisiana. Photo: Refractory

Angola Prison, Louisiana. Photo: Refractory

Prisoners across the United States are launching a massive strike on Friday, on the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising, to protest what they call modern-day slavery.

Organizers say the strike will take place in at least 24 states to protest inhumane living and working conditions, forced labor, and the cycle of the criminal justice system itself. In California alone, 800 people are expected to take part in the work stoppage. It is slated to be one of the largest strikes in history.

In the era of Black Lives Matter, the issues of racist policing, the school-to-prison pipeline, and other factors that contribute to the mass incarceration crisis are coming to the forefront of civil and human rights movements. Continue reading

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Admitting Failed Experiment, DOJ to Phase Out Private Prisons

Private prisons more dangerous and costly, Justice Department finally admits

By Nika Knight, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-18-2016

Corrections Corporations of America is one of the largest private prison corporations in the country, and currently runs 47 prisons nationwide. (Photo: CCA.com)

Corrections Corporations of America is one of the largest private prison corporations in the country, and currently runs 47 prisons nationwide. (Photo: CCA.com)

After years of documented human rights abuses by the private prison industry, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is finally ending its use of privately-run, for-profit prisons, the Washington Post reports.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates issued a memo Thursday announcing that the federal government is ending its contracts with the private prison industry, days after the department’s Inspector General issued a damning report about the danger and abuse facing inmates in private federal prisons. Continue reading

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Explosive Rates of Mass Incarceration Called Major ‘Civil Rights Issue of Our Time’

Published on Friday, January 16, 2015 by Common Dreams

Over the past 40 years, U.S. incarceration has exploded, the report notes, not due to a corresponding increase in severe crimes, but due to society’s “collective choice to become more punitive.” (Image: okayplayer.com)

The disproportionate mass incarceration of people of color in the United States, particularly of black men, is no accident, finds a new report from the Economic Policy Institute. It stems from deep racism in U.S. society—enacted through public policy, policing, a dual court system, media representations, and more—and constitutes “one of the most pressing civil rights issues of our time.”

Entitled Where Do We Go from Here? Mass Incarceration and the Struggle for Civil Rights, the analysis was written by Robynn J.A. Cox, assistant professor at Spelman College. Published Friday, the report comes amid mounting nationwide protests to reclaim the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr in the lead up to the federal holiday, at a time of protracted and large-scale movements to declare Black Lives Matter.

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The 6-Step Process to Wipe Out the Poor Half of America

Published by CommonDreams.org on December 15, 2014.

By Paul Buchheit

One of the themes of the superb writing of Henry Giroux is that more and more Americans are becoming “disposable,” recognized as either commodities or criminals by the more fortunate members of society. There seems to be a method to the madness of winner-take-all capitalism. The following steps, whether due to greed or indifference or disdain, are the means by which America’s wealth-takers dispose of the people they don’t need.

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Call It Deep Pocket Corizon

If someone were to say Deepwater Horizon to you, you’d more than likely think of the massive oil spill that started on April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. You remember the eleven people who died when the Deepwater Horizon exploded. You remember the camera capturing the oil gushing out of the wellhead for 86 days until it was finally capped. You remember BP and Halliburton trying their best (and succeeding to a large degree) to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, and damaging both the ecosystem and the lives of people around the Gulf for years to come. Such is the power of those two words.

Lately, there’s been a horrific story that’s been covered in bits and pieces by the (mostly local) media, but isn’t getting the coverage or outrage it deserves. It’s a story that concerns a company that exists on government contracts; a company that consistently underperforms in a way that is truly fatal to the people it’s supposed to be serving. Yet, we hear nothing about it. Why is that? Continue reading

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