Trout Fisting In America #50 – Prisons

prison

Okay, before we get started: a show of hands. Any white person who has ever committed a crime please raise your hand, and please keep in mind that drugs like marijuana & cocaine are illegal, and prescription drugs w/o a prescription are also illegal.

Right—pretty much everyone, just as I thought. So let’s not pretend that all the people currently in prison deserve to be there b/c they committed a crime and so fuck them and all the rest that comes w/it. Our justice system is seriously unjust.

It’s also a waste of money. The majority of 4th graders in this country can’t read at grade level, but we spend 3x more $$$ on prisoners than pupils. Most of these prisoners are nonviolent offenders. Most of you are guilty of similar crimes.

And while Inmates skew disproportionately poor and disproportionately non-white (1 in 3 black and 1 in 6 hispanic boys (and if you think that’s b/c they’re disproportionately criminal you’ve never spent time around a fraternity house or a pack of US military on R&R), they also skew way, way disproportionately as victims of childhood abuse & trauma. And prison isn’t doing them any favors. Most US prisons are understaffed abominable shitholes, but b/c Louisiana is more understaffed/abominable/shithole-ish than nearly every other state, its prisons might be the worst:

“Quite often, inmates at David Wade Correctional Center in extended lockdown are victims of unchecked or unrestrained physical abuse and sometimes sexual abuse at the hands of unprofessional and sadistic male guards,” the lawsuit alleges, “(and are) subjected to some of the most barbaric and inhumane living conditions today in the modernized prison system.” The lawsuit also alleged that inmates in lockdown were double bunked with “enemies”; some lockdown units lacked ventilation, fans and water fountains; drinking water was brown or orange; prison staff sprayed chemically agents excessively; mentally ill inmates were slapped and punched; and food serving areas in the units had roach infestations. A judge dismissed the case, after requesting but not receiving a “signed original complaint” within 30 days of the issued request. The lawsuit, while handwritten, had not been signed in the designated area of the form.”

Holy shit! Those guards sure put the ‘erection’ in ‘correctional institute.’

And not only do you lose any & all human rights once you go to jail, you also get to go to work! Only in prison you don’t get paid! Every kid dreams of being a firefighter (I know mine does), and so when he asks me, ‘Daddy, how do you get to be a firefighter?’ I tell him ‘All you have to do is go to prison, son! You’ll get to fight the most dangerous fires in the country! For less than a fucking dollar an hour!’

13% of California’s firefighters are in prison. But hey, if they didn’t want to be slaves, then I guess they shouldn’t have gone to prison.

Quick question: If the majority of people we lock up are disproportionately poor & black, and the people who run the prisons turn around and sell their unpaid (or barely-paid) labor, doesn’t that create an incentive for US job creators to push for more inmates so they can pay lower wages? And doesn’t that just create a legal form of slavery?

Oh shit I think it fucking does.

Because when the US is looking for some unpaid labor they’ve been knocking on the same door for 300yrs now. And if you aren’t going to open it, they have no problem busting in. And if you try to run away, they have no problem shooting you. And if you somehow manage to break through the sea of over-educated 99%whiteness that gets us our information these days and manage to tell your story, you can be damn sure that most people aren’t going to listen and most of the people listening aren’t going to give a shit b/c the rationalizations & justifications for all the unjust/unnecessary bullshit in this country have already been provided to them.

And if they aren’t even living here as legal citizens of the USA, then fuck it—you can just hold them indefinitely and do whatever you want to them. Nothing says ‘land of the free’ or ‘we’re in no way like the nazis’ like rounding up a specific demographic of people, holding them indefinitely in camps, and putting them to work. This country spends nearly $2billion a year to house illegal immigrants awaiting (and awaiting, and awaiting…) a hearing. Or to put it another way. These facilities rake in two billion annual dollars and so why the fuck wouldn’t they try to arrest as many people as possible?

And now the private prisons are angling to get some of that sweet immigrant detainee $$$ into their pockets, and out of ours. It’s okay if you’ve never heard of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). They’ve never heard of you either. https://www.cca.com/. Or maybe they have.

So the prison-industrial complex, that is to say locking people up for corporate profit, is especially odious & twisted b/c it combines capitalist greed & police-state authority and once it gets you in its grips you’re pretty much fucked as a citizen for the rest of your life.Once there’s money to be made, you’ve got to make it. Corporate create a financial incentive—a financial necessity—to lock people up. These corporation can then lobby/bribe/blackmail/whatever lawmakers for harsher penalties (more $$$!!!) even for victimless crimes, and no lawmaker wants to ever risk being labelled ‘soft on crime’ (oh you under-endowed men & yr fear of flaccidity!).

And then once they’ve served their time, once they’ve—as it’s so euphemistically spoken—paid their debt to society, they spend the rest of their lives as a former convicted felon. In most states, they’re not even able to vote, even after they’re released from prison. And, like most US things, disenfranchising felons is an idea rooted in racism.

“The white supremacists who championed such measures were very clear on their reasons. In 1894, a white South Carolina newspaper argued that voting laws needed to be amended, lest whites be swept away at the polls by the black vote. In 1901 Alabama amended its Constitution to expand disenfranchisement to all crimes involving “moral turpitude” — a vague term that was applied to misdemeanors and even acts not punishable by law. The president of the constitutional convention argued that manipulating the ballot to exclude blacks was warranted, because they were inferior to whites and because the state needed to avert the “menace of Negro domination.”

Uncoincidentally, two states that do allow prisoners to vote—Vermont & Maine—are predominantly white, and it turns out americans are less afraid of ‘criminals’ when the criminals are white. But this idea that the govt. can take away your voting rights b/c you’ve been convicted of a crime should terrify everyone. I mean, couldn’t some politician down the road deliberately target voters of the opposite party? Or people who protest against the government?

Ah fuck.

Y’know, as this series starts winding its way towards the Trout Fisting conclusion, it gets harder & harder to even pretend that we live in this bastion of freedom/tolerance/democracy we’re always told we live in. Because in this country freedom is a joke, and ‘justice for all’ is a fucking lie.

Because rich people in this country don’t go to jail. Rob $50 from a convenience store and you’re a dangerous menace to society who needs to be taken off the streets. Steal millions and you’re just a good businessman. Mortgage lenders don’t go to jail for fraud, street hustlers do. Investment bankers (and congressmen) don’t go to jail for insider trading. Wells Fargo steals millions from their customers and gets off w/a fine.

And, as we’ve talked about elsewhere, cops don’t go to jail for murder. Hell, they don’t even apologize. If you have money in this country, , or power, anything is possible. Want to get into Harvard despite your shitty grades? Get your dad to write a check for $2.5million. Raped some chick in the dirt by a dumpster? Get your parents to tell the judge how nice you are. If you’re rich, you get to molest children. You get to kill your wife. You get to sexually assault women without legal consequences. You get to do any drug you want to do without the threat of being arrested or the threat of ever running out of drugs (for most drug folks the latter is more of a concern than the former).

But if you’re poor in this country, you’d better try not to get pulled over.

The most amazing thing about states that drug test food stamp & welfare recipients is that the tests bring back so few positive results. The tests end up costing infinitely more than the money saved by cutting benefits to offenders. Imagine if we drug tested students in Ivy League schools, or investment bankers, or (god fucking forbid) the senators & congresscritters who come up with this horseshit. There’d be a lot of empty classrooms, empty trading houses, and empty chambers.

Injustice takes many forms. It’s Ollie North dealing guns to Iran and Ronald Reagan giving the money to the Contras. It’s Mark Fuhrman admitting he framed black people. It’s George W. Bush blowing up the Arab world and crashing the US economy and instituting torture policies. It’s knowingly exposing an entire community to lead poisoning. None of these people served time for their crimes. And the fact you’ve got some people in this country who blame Obama for everything tells you everything you need to know about how justice works—or more precisely doesn’t work—in this bullshit rig-job of a country. It’s the difference between rioting when your sports team wins and nobody goes to jail vs. rioting b/c you’re tired of being assaulted/profiled/killed by your local police and somebody definitely goes to jail.

The USA is a fucking fascist police state. On some level we all know this, but we allow it to continue, to grow more powerful year after year, b/c we think it won’t affect us, because we are incapable of ascribing humanity to anyone who we perceive as different from ourselves. I for one welcome our new AI-injected robot overloads. They can’t have any less of a soul, and they at least might be capable of rational thought. Sometimes it feels like this entire country is a prison. It’s just that some cells have better views than others.

 

Trout Fisting In America appears here every Tuesday (lately on Friday too!). We’re going to keep going until we reach #55, or until the Trout begs for mercy. You can check out previous installments HERE.

About ScottCreney

Scott Creney lives in Athens, Georgia. He is the author of "Dear Al-Qaeda: Letters to the World’s Most Notorious Terror Organiztion".
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