Since Joseph Biden is now the apparent (slight) front-runner for the nomination, I feel like it's important to make sure everyone knows what mass-incarceration is.
If you have friends, neighbors, or family members who are behind on this topic, use this article to educate them. It's meant as a primer for someone who's starting from scratch.
It's also useful for those who know a little bit about the topic, but don't yet appreciate how serious it is.
Anyway, let's get started.
The United States has a greater proportion of its population incarcerated than any other country in the world. In September 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world's population, it houses around 22 percent of the world's prisoners.
Here's a handy comparison (from the BBC):
As you can see, the USA has more prisoners than China does. And that's not just in proportion (percentages), but also in plain, raw head-count! Despite China being 4 times bigger in total population!
And compared between ethnic groups, the rate for African Americans is 5 times higher than for European Americans.
And about 1/3 of all these imprisoned souls are in there for non-violent actions that aren't even real crimes in the first place, like using herbal medicine, having herbal medicine, distributing herbal medicine, and growing herbal medicine.
The rate is so high, it even exceeds historical rates, in regimes famous for their oppression. It's greater than that of North Korea, Iran, Iraq, or Cuba, at any point in their histories.
In The New Yorker article The Caging of America (2012), Adam Gopnik writes: "Over all, there are now more people under 'correctional supervision' in America—more than six million—than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height."
The USA is, by any standard you could possibly use for measuring, the prison capital of the world, and possibly of Time itself.
This fact ought to give anyone pause. It really begs the question: Why do some of us believe we have the right to "police the world", and "defend freedom", and "spread democracy", and "overthrow tyrants", and "liberate oppressed peoples", when our own country is the most in need of liberating? Shouldn't China be slapping economic sanctions on us, for our imprisonment of minority populations?
But that aside, we need to understand the roots of this problem, so that we can address it.
The Foundations of Modern Mass-Incarceration
Rewind to the early 1800's, when slavery was legal. During this period, the slave-holding class was not merely a socio-economic bracket. It was an organized plutocracy.
Abolitionists referred to it as "The Slave Power." It was a brotherhood of the powerful slave-holders, all across the South, working in tandem with one another, as a group, to keep slavery legal, and keep themselves at the top of the hierarchy of power.
The mistake that most people have made, is that most of us think slavery ended in the 1860's. It didn't.
Lincoln dealt a heavy blow to the Slave Power, but he didn't kill it. The plutocracy lived on.
He broke their existing business-model... but he didn't break them.
The open practice of chattel slavery was declared illegal...
...but an important exception was included in the 13th Amendment: except as punishment for crime.
Strange, isn't it, that slavery - a pure and unmitigated evil, an absolute abomination, deserved to still have a place in society, provided certain criteria were met.
The reason that line was included in the Amendment is simple: It's a backdoor for the Slave Power - that southern plutocracy of former-slave-holding aristocrats - to continue to operate, and wiggle its way back into our society, and back up to prominence and power.
While "plantation slavery" was finished, there was a new slave trade that would operate from thenceforth in the shadows. It has a few names:
-the prison industry
-the private prison industry
-the prison industrial complex
-the private prison industrial complex
...and so on.
Here's how it works, in a nutshell. This is how it makes money. This is its business model:
1. Spend money lobbying legislators (at national, state, and local levels) to pass more and more restrictive, draconian crime legislation, including a super-charged "War on Drugs", and hire more and more cops to enforce that new legislation, and get lots and lots and lots of people into prison.
2. Preferably poor people, (because they have so little power in society, and no money to hire proper legal defense, and are therefore the most vulnerable), and also people of color, (since it's easy to demonize them on the nightly news, in the eyes of the white majority, and therefore, prevent any outpouring of sympathy).
3. Make contracts with state and local governments, to build prisons for them, and get paid per prisoner. Revenues are directly linked to the number of people housed in the prison at any given time. The more inmates there are, the more money the prison company gets paid.
"Per head", as they used to say in the plantation slavery days.
4. As an added bonus, make them work, and pay them a near-zero amount of money, like 10 cents per hour. Make use of all of this free labor. Have them sew garments, pick up litter on dangerous highway shoulders, and fight fires (like they're doing in California).
5. Just to add as much indignity onto it as possible, make sure that the young people of color in the prison system understand that they are "property" of the state, and that their own bodies don't even belong to them, and that other people (who are armed and always angry) have the right to put their hands on their bodies, and invade their privacy, at any time, for any reason. Hammer that in, through systematic dehumanization, not only behind the jailhouse walls, but also in the public discourse. We've all heard someone joke about inmates being "wards of the state", and "property of the state". This is considered a common-knowledge, acceptable thing to believe and say. Well, there ya go. If that doesn't scream, "This industry is a direct continuation of the southern Slave Power", then what does?
Politicians know they're doing this, and they don't feel bothered by it at all. Senator Kamala Harris, a candidate for president, used her office as State's Attorney to keep people in jail, specifically so that they could work for no pay.
She did this, and it got no scrutiny during her campaign. It was completely ignored by the television newsmedia - which makes sense if you realize the three-letter media networks (NBC, CNN, CBS, ABC, FOX, etc) are owned by the same network of corporations that own the prison industry!
Don't believe that?
See for yourself! Quick example:
It's common knowledge (for anyone outside the corporate media bubble) that there is a planetwide "corporatocracy", a network of corporations all owning one another, all owned by a tiny elite group of bloodlines descended from the early Robber Barons and, ultimately, to the European royal family. (Yes, there's only one European royal family, as they're all interbred).
There have even been scientific studies proving this:
More information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202517/
And Joseph Biden has had a deeper hand in this than almost anyone.
Biden was one of the key architects of mass-incarceration, which threw a whole generation of young men (especially black men) in prison:
He has been one of the highest recipients of prison-industry money throughout his career, and he has been their staunch ally in return for it.
To put this in plain language:
Joseph Biden sets policies to capture people - especially black people - from their homes, and imprison them, to work for no money, and he gets paid in return for it.
That is the slave trade, and Joseph Biden is a slave trader.
It seems like it "can't be true", but that's only because it's so common, that if it really were this bad, then surely 90% of our elected officials wouldn't be participating in it to one degree or another - right?
But they are. And its commonness and regularity don't change its nature. It still is what it is. Slavery. The modern-day slave trade.
Joseph Biden is a slave-trader.
So is most of Congress. Both parties.
And the governors. And the state legislators.
And our worthless excuse of a "press" won't even report on this, because they're all owned by the same companies that own the companies that own the prisons!
This is why we need a revolution. We don't need one party (the D's) to take power back, when they're literally slave-traders. We don't need power to change hands - we need to completely flush all of this filth out of our government. Nothing but a revolution will suffice.