Prison System


KKK members were allegedly volunteers.

In place of the KKK today we have well paid members of the judiciary together with a prison industrial system that has done more harm to people of color than all of the years of the KKK combined.

One of every 32 persons in the United States is incarcerated, on probation or parole. 3,692 people are awaiting execution. Two million people are in U.S. prisons which now make up 25% of the prisoners of the world but we have less than 5% of the world’s people. In short we have more prisons, more people in solitary confinement, longer sentences and more executions than most other nations.

South of the Mason-Dixon line incarceration rates are 12% higher than in the rest of the country. Poor African Americans and Latinos have suffered the most from this system of class justice. Poor trial representation leads to overcrowded death rows and excessive sentences. It is incumbent on judges to refuse to be rubber stamp functionaries for mandatory minimums and demand the right to judge the case.

The most serious part of this problem is political. Our judges and legislators know that “tough on crime” is a great slogan. Executing people gives our public a false sense of security just as bombing Iraq and Afghanistan have given us a false sense of security.

Our archaic death penalty continues in a country that leads the world in homicide. Capital punishment is as much a failure as our ballistic foreign policy.

The average sentence for a first time, non-violent drug offender is longer than the average sentence for rape, child molestation, bank robbery or manslaughter Just as in the case of the arms business during the Cold War and the eternal Bush Wars, corporate profits are the driving forces for the prison industrial complex, which Eric Schlosser defines as: “a set of bureaucratic, political, and economic interests that encourage increased spending on imprisonment, regardless of the actual need.”

In short, the more prisoners there are, the higher the profits. Since 1983 we even have private, for profit prisons. The bill for the false security of prisons and the war system is paid by our deteriorating education and health programs. Mandatory sentences, primarily for drug related offenses, have filled prisons with people who 20 years ago would not have served any time at all. A mean spirited society is a failed society.

Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex drew more than 2,000 critics to its national conference in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans. The goal of Critical Resistance is to end the prison industrial complex. Speakers urged those present to make the connection between protesting the prison industrial complex and fighting against both the U.S. War mania and the Patriot Act.

Let’s not have profit making corporations do what is illegal for the KKK to do. Don’t let incompetent legislators get your vote for false and deceptive profit making approaches to foreign or domestic security. The website for Critical Resistance is just that: critical resistance.org.

Blase Bonpane, Ph.D., served as a Maryknoll priest and superior where he was asigned to and expelled from Central America. As a U.S. citizen, he is especially concerned about the role of his own country in fostering conditions of injustice.

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