Friday, November 30, 2012

American Made......In Prison

Big business in America has hit the proverbial lottery. They've found a nearly endless supply of laborer's who will never be late, and will always be productive, and will never go on strike. These business' don't have to provide medical insurance, vacation days, sick time, 401k or a retirement plan for this particular work force, and the most compelling advantage of all is the fact that they don't even have to pay them minimum wage. In fact, they pay them 25 cents an hour. On the surface this may seem impossible to believe, it may even sound like a fantasy. But the reality is that this work force does exist, within the prison system.
There are 2 million people currently incarcerated in The United States, many of whom are Black and Hispanic. There has never been an instance in the history of man kind in which a country has caged so many of its citizens. America has jailed more people than any other country in the world, and China has a population which exceeds that of the U.S. by 5 times more. The multitude of those incarcerated has caused a boon in prison privatization. Often with construction of new prison's contracted out to capitalistic opportunist's anxious to generate hundreds of millions of dollars through warehousing inmates with little or no focus on rehabilitation. Now The Prison Industrial Complex has found another way to capitalize on its inmate population, slave labor.
At the Union Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Florida, inmates from a lower security prison manufacture tons of processed beef, chicken and pork for P.R.I.D.E ( Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises), a privately held non-profit cooperation that operates the states 41 work programs. On PRIDE's website they offer a wide array of products for sale through contracts from private companies. Everything from eyeglasses to furniture can be shipped to anywhere in the U. S. from a distribution center in Florida. PRIDE boasts that it's work programs are “designed to provide vocational training, to improve prison security, to reduce the cost of state government, and to promote the rehabilitation of the state inmates.”
This sounds good in theory, but until there is a notable drop in the rate of recidivism, it will be nothing more than a slogan, or a mission statement with no substance or roots in reality. The profit margin is just too high for any corporate entity to resist, and it would be the equivalent of throwing money out of the window as it relates to corporate profit. So there is absolutely no incentive to train or rehabilitate, and even if there were, the skills and experience acquired in such programs would not be at all redemptive in an unforgiving market place. All that these programs really encourage is mass incarceration in order to maintain a work force. The commercial investor's who profit from prison labor spend a huge amount of money lobbying for longer prison sentences to increase their labor force.
In the past, inmates manufactured products solely for the Federal Government, license plates being the norm. Today, due to new contracts inmates manufacture everything from guided missile parts, to solar panels for government buildings.
Prison labor for the private sector was legally barred for years until the intervention of two widely unknown sources. ALEC (The American Legislative Exchange Council), with it's Prison Industries Act, and a little known government program known as P.I.E. (The Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program). These forces remain largely unknown despite the fact that they have driven the expansion of prison labor. ALEC helped pioneer some of the toughest sentencing laws on the books today, including the "3 strikes law", mandatory minimums for non violent offenders, and "The Proof In Sentencing Act", which was signed into law in 25 states in 1995. ALEC has also worked to pass state laws to create for profit prisons. Obviously ALEC is capably of finding endless way to provide a readily available workforce.
It is evident that some conspiracies have now become full fledged plans. Gone are the days of clandestine meetings, and hidden compromises with dubious intent. While we are occupied by smoke screens, laws are being passed, deals are being made, and huge amounts of cash are changing hands. Certain forces in this country would have you believe that "Black's and Brown's" are taking all of the jobs. But in reality, if there is a national expansion of prison labor the unemployment rate will ultimately inevitably increase. Not because of the Black man, the Hispanic Man or any or man, but because of corporate entities who will stop a nothing to turn a profit. It seems as fast becoming a way to enslave those who are incarcerated.


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