Slaves, Servants & Serfs: The Privatization of the U.S. Prison System

Am I not a man emblem used during the campaign...

Our story begins in the year 1984 when a company by the name of Corrections Corporation of America took hold of the country’s very first full corrections facility contract for the state of Tennessee.  This would mark the beginning of a corporate takeover of our nations correctional system.  Since then, our country’s prison system has been turned into a for-profit money-making machine which continues to swallow up the economy’s number one resource-the people.  The prison stripes have now become the profits of the pin-stripes.  Prisoners are now the new-age slaves producing one of the fastest growing industries in the west.  This privatization of the prison system is a detriment to the future of our nation and is another example of corporate exploitation of humans to feed the greed of the few.

At the inception of this cultural catastrophe, in 1984 there were 395,309 inmates within 903 state-run correctional facilities in the United States according to a census by the Department of Justice.  In a census performed in 2005 they reported that those numbers had climbed to 1,430,208 prisoners within 1,821 correctional facilities.  In 2010 as the number one prison profiteers of the world, the inmate population in the U.S. had climbed to 2,266,832.  The amount of inmates over the past 28 years has increased almost 6 times what it was pre-privatization and currently private prisons only make up about half of the entire correctional system in the U.S.  We can only assume that there must be a correlation between this massive increase in incarceration and the proliferation of for-profit prison institutions here in the United States.  The question is will this trend continue and to what end?

In the early to mid 2000’s I was made privy to this injustice when a best friend of mine found himself caught within the United States correctional system.  Upon his release, he and I discussed at great length about the prison in which he resided, he explained how this particular prison made its prisoners milk cows for 25 cents per day, which the corporation/prison would then turn around and sell for a corporate profit on the wholesale market.  The 25 cents per day of course was never meant to leave the prison walls and served only as an incentive for prisoners to “work the land” so to speak in return for daily necessities such as soap, toothpaste, etc.  This of course was shocking, as I being young and naive had believed in a prison system that was at least partially interested in the rehabilitation of society’s fallen.  Unfortunately, this discovery implied a different sort of intention.  It was an intention rooted in greed and I wondered then, as I do now, how ethical such a system is and what ills can be generated from it in the future if left unattended.  What incentive does the corporation have in rehabilitating it’s slave labor force.  It would seem that the opposite would be preferred by these corporate crime profiteers, and that rehabilitation would be contrary to their for-profit model.

In a country where corporations fight for perpetual progress how are we to believe that the intentions of a privatized prison system are none other than the propagation of crime as a way to increase overall profitability.  To what extent are these companies willing to create new ways of increasing their profits and to what lengths will they go to protect their investment?  According to some estimates the three major private prison companies of the United States: CCA, GEO and CSC have spent around 45 million dollars over the past 10 years on lobbying.  What exactly are they spending their money on?  Do “We the People” have any say in this purchasing of legislative action?  Either way, it is clear that they intend to manipulate legislation to ultimately serve their own interests and not the collective interests of “the People.”

We live in a new era of corporate controlled serfdom which has paid the pockets of United States public servants-our leaders, in order to help establish a for-profit slave labor prison system.  This system continues to grow and with no end in sight, the imprisoning of our nation’s citizens has become big business.  With new legislation like the NDAA, the push for internet censorship, surveillance drones for U.S. streets and CCTV cameras being distributed throughout the country, it doesn’t seem too out of the realm of possibility that there will be rising profits in the coming years for companies like CCA.  And, with perpetual annual progress serving as a cornerstone of contemporary corporate ambitions, we can project as they might, that greater percentages of Americans in the near future will find themselves under the ownership of the department of corporate corrections, and it is only a matter of time that we, on a personal level will be either directly or indirectly affected by our governments collusion with these private slave owners.  This is a corporate conquest led by companies like CCA, which seek to exploit the human product to its fullest extent.

Over the past 18 years we have been witnessing the incremental imprisonment of “the land of the free” and it would seem our leaders  and their corporate controllers are laying waste to our Freedoms on a multitude of fronts, all for the purpose of the consolidation of wealth and power. So it is our moral responsibility once again to call for the abolishment of slavery in this country and #endprivateprisons, and the support thereof by our leaders.  If we are truly meant to be the “leaders of the free world” then it is of the utmost importance that we lead by example in all matters concerning human rights violations, even those matters which involve our  society’s fallen and ill-favored.  So let us all speak out against the privatization of the U.S. prison system and #EndPrivatePrisons & #AbolishModernSlavery.

Just. B.

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Freedom & the Hidden Heroic: When Slaves Become Free

Chain expressing freedom

Freedom. Do we derive our freedom from document or deity. Does our freedom have a cost or does it require control. If freedom requires such control, then is it true freedom? We are bombarded with symbolic violence which perpetuates psychological, emotional, and political debts to a state that was originally designed to serve the people. Instead, control tactics and game theory are leashed upon the masses. Should freedom be limited to certain aspects of our lives or is it something universal? Free-speech zones, designated press areas, police brutality, and the like, give us a clear look into the life of a “free” citizen. Do we really need someone else to tell us we have freedom, or are we bright enough to grasp it ourselves? We are treated as perpetual children within the confines of a play pen of political pageantry. So called leaders which consist of cheats, liars, and ruthless businessmen look at us as numbers on a page. We are a series of producers and consumers that apparently require constant management. Let it be understood We are human too, maybe more human than most of you. We want to live free lives no longer told what to do. You regulate our lives as if you have all the answers. We are told what to eat, what to do, what drugs we can take, how to make money, what to do with our money, what to say, what to think, how to speak and to whom we should speak our ideas to. The list goes on and on, and with no end in sight. The Legislative branch has become a business sold to the highest bidder. The question is how many laws are too many? When will we have had enough? We no longer have representatives “of the people” and “for the people”, but rather corporation spokesmen and women, whores of corporate money, manipulating the system to increase corporate profits. If a company provides bad service, you boycott to make an impression, but when government makes bad decisions you flock to the polls. As long as we continue to play the game, we will be under the control of a government that has lost touch with its constituents. Hypothetically speaking, if no one voted and “we the people” boycotted the system, the system would be forced to tell the truth. The true leaders would come out from behind the veil, to announce who the new elect would be. The truth is, is that our vote is mere illusion, and corporatism is the new law of the land. If we want true freedom, we must become sovereign minds that understand the law far better than our corporate magicians and dismantle the grip of corporate greed. We must disregard our emotional responses to media middle men and their “three card monte” and logically dissect the body of law with which we are immersed, extracting the sickness that lies within. The stars of the enlightenment attempted to empower future people with the notion that freedom is not abstraction, but absolute. We must educate ourselves and become our own leaders, and stop hoping that our dreams can be achieved under another person’s care. We are the heroes that we look for, the hidden heroic, the leaders, led by the lesser. It is time we stand up and lead ourselves. No longer be led, but lead, stop being fed and be freed. Only then can slaves be free…

Just. B.

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The 99% – A Voice of Change in a World of Inequality

Social change label

Social change label (Photo credit: Aleksi Aaltonen)

I have spent the past few years focusing much of my energy on trying to understand who is at fault for the economic oppression that is perpetrated on the impoverished in this country and the world. The economic crash has only fueled the fire, and although many times I have felt hopeless in my attempts at finding an answer I have continued. I have pointed fingers at many global leaders, politicians, corporations, and others, but still feel as though in my heart I have not resolved anything. I feel like many people feel, as if somehow I have been swindled but can’t quite figure out by who or how, as if arriving home we are met with the harsh reality of being robbed. The Occupy movement has catapulted the notion of the 99% into the global consciousness. The idea is that 1% of the population controls the majority of the worlds wealth, while the other 99% of us are left fighting for their scraps. This of course is not a new idea, Karl Marx dealt with this in his communist manifesto, but it is still an idea which is attempting to place focus upon an economic imbalance amongst the global population that has far reaching effects. The problem I see with the approach of Marx is that the only way out of our economic dilemma is for the proletariat to overcome their servitude to the bourgeoisie by uprising against the controllers. The problem that comes from this idea, is that it only gives responsibility to the proletariat to right the wrong while simultaneously objectifying the bourgeoisie. So with this approach, the bourgeoisie become a faceless catalyst for change a sort of anti-hero for the proletariat. Unfortunately the world is multi-faceted and not two dimensional and this requires the action of all players to help make a change.

Corporations, governments, etc. are not merely automatons following a specified program, but rather are a social network of moral individuals cohesively working towards a projected goal. This means that each individual plays an integral role in the moral choices of that entity. The problem with labeling these dominant groups i.e. bourgeoisie, the man, the 1%, etc. is that we remove the guilt from the actions of each individual involved. It becomes a mask which hides the identities of those that are perpetuating the problem. The problem truly lies in the makeup of the system which has been devised by greedy individuals, and once the system is in motion it takes those within as well as outside the system to make a conscious effort to change it for the better. Power unchecked whether it be political or economic leads to despotism, and whether it is a economic or political despotism the outcome is still the same- Social inequality, cronyism, injustice, etc.

We can see economic oppression all over the world, and much of what we see stems from first world nations oppressing third world nations and draining them of natural resources while demanding cheap labor and a tight lip. To explain in simple terms how this relationship works, the first world executes a sort of financial takeover of a country rich in natural resources through numerous efforts. One of the ways is through lending financial resources to the neighboring country on interest. The interest rate of course is such, that the borrowing nation will be reduced to a state of perpetual debt. In return for first world kindness the newly third world nation becomes an indentured servant to the dominant nation. The first world nation then utilizes the countries resources for the consumption of luxury goods; coffee, sugar, tobacco, diamonds, ipads, televisions, and the list goes on and on. The first world then sells back these goods to the third world at an inflated price. So the goods that they produce, they are forced to purchase at a higher price then what is given to their overlords while simultaneously earning substandard wages. With this sort of system in place, we can see how it is nearly impossible for the third world nations to rise above the status quo. This economic warfare model is not isolated to first and third world nations, but also permeates every facet of the world economy. This is why Foxconn workers spend all of their daylight hours slaving over iPads much like the one I am typing this post on, to be made as an inexpensive luxury item for us to enjoy and for them to never see and experience. But it is also arrogant for us to believe that somehow we are not caught in the same rat race here as well. All of us are fighting for scraps, and the wealthy continue to consolidate their wealth, while we pay the bill.

All of us have a role to play in the beautification of our society; some of us are protesters, some are spectators, some fight, while some are meant to stand witness. All of us now have the ability to witness injustice as it is happening in real time and we also have a voice, this voice carries a lot of weight, more than it ever has in history. With this voice, comes a responsibility to our fellow men and women. If there is injustice we must bear witness and use our voice to spread the word and in turn shine a light on the cockroaches that are perpetuating the injustices. All of us deserve the chance to have a better life. Our voice must be the catalyst for social change and that better life and those in power become merely our tools for that change. We the 99% become the writers of the program and the 1% become our tools to execute that which we have written. The change must come from all of us, not just one side, but both. We can no longer be non-active participants in the global society. Instead of being merely consumers we must also be producers of positive social change. We must all hold each other accountable for how we treat one another and not hide behind the mask of a corporation, government, etc. In a world that is increasingly less and less private, we must require the same transparency that the controllers ask of us. Raise our voice and shine our light for social justice and equality. Let us become the change that we long for, let reality be an unfolding of our greatest hopes and ideas, and let us become our greater self.
Just. B.

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Formlessness: A Path to Ambiguity

We spend most of our lives pigeon-holing ourselves into many different groups and organizations. In our search for solidarity we compromise our beliefs, ideals, and traditions in order to fit in with the group. Musical likes, sports teams, political parties, religious beliefs, etc. all draw us into a process which we believe to be benevolent. In many cases we find ourselves agreeing with ideologies that we would otherwise despise, but because the mob consumes us and our emotions, we become individuals with a thousand faces. It is no wonder that when we are isolated in a sea of silence, we squirm under the scrutiny of the microscope of our own conscious mind. We become subject to the reflection of our own choices. Many people run from the silence in hopes to not catch a glimpse into the looking glass of their soul. Formalism becomes their refuge, a place where they can justify their actions by looking at others for validation. We begin to pass over from individuality and formlessness into conformity and allow ourselves to become what we believe others wish us to be. No longer are our choices our own, because those choices become offerings to the group in an attempt to receive praise. We become slaves to our perceptions about the world instead of being true to our nature.

A great friend once told me to be formless, to be a renaissance man, to become like a color. To explain color requires

the fourth blot of the Rorschach inkblot test

the fourth blot of the Rorschach inkblot test (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

that you show things in the world that resemble that color, so the color itself becomes the archetype and everything else merely shares its attributes. For example many things can be described as being yellow, but how exactly do we define the color yellow? It is bright, it is a color, a lemon is yellow, etc. but all these ideas do not clearly convey what the color yellow is, but still somehow we understand what it is none the less. This is what it means to be formless, do not let yourself be defined by the group, nor be formed by our choices, or the things we own but rather let those around you search for the right words to describe you. Let them struggle to pigeon-hole you into a particular group or idea. Let the world be defined by you instead of the world defining you. Cross from conformity to ambiguity, an ineffable representation of your self. Materialize your archetype, be vulnerable and place your ideas and creativity out for all the world to embrace. We can only be held back by the hands of our own fears but the Truth is so much more enticing than the facade, but it requires courage. Courage that tears us from the prison of our perceptions and releases us into the unknown, that which we cannot control or conform. Formlessness our path to ambiguity.
Just. B.

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