The inmates across the Maryland penitentiary complex suffer inhumane conditions on a daily basis. Conditions including police/guard brutality, rape and abuse, grueling unpaid slave labor.
Big corporations, police, prison guard unions, and politicians are complicit in the largest system of mass oppression anywhere in the world today. Yet many of us — U.S. citizens — move through our days like millions of our family members, friends, and neighbors are not disappearing away to rapey dungeons where they perform slave labor under abysmal conditions. We tell ourselves fairy tales like, ‘they deserve it’ or ‘they’re getting help.’
I call bullshit. Our prison system was not designed to rehabilitate; it was designed to punish for punishment’s sake and to provide a source of free labor. Prisons are enormous factories managed and operated by corporations. Our laws that place mostly nonviolent offenders into such a paradigm under the guise of morality, are a total sham, held up by morally bankrupt, state sanctioned propaganda with catchy slogans like “The War on Drugs” or “The War on Crime”. The incredibly disproportionate rate at which oppressed nationalities receive excessive punishment disparate to their offenses can leave no lingering doubt that the U.S. criminal justice system is morally bankrupt.
The Geneva Convention identifies certain minimum conditions that must be observed when taking and keeping prisoners. The U.S. industrial prison complex is in gross violation of these conditions and in so doing brings into question it’s own internal moral justification. Violations of conditions include; inequitable remuneration for work, lack of access to clean water, insufficient support when released from prison, and corporal punishment; these violations are an international disgrace.
Problem is, the U.S. flaunts its apparent immunity from international law. Whether erecting a massive complex of modern day slave plantations complete with arbitrarily prohibitive laws and draconian sentences, or bombing developing nations every time our political and economic appetites are peaked, or administrating global digital mass interception programs, the U.S. does not seem to give a fuck about rules or harm reduction.
Bottom line, mass incarceration and modern slavery in the U.S. is a multi-billion dollar industry and will not stop unless we make it stop. Prisoners may be out of sight, but they must not be out of mind. Millions of persons are caught up in what will be remembered as one of the darkest institutions in U.S. history. Immediate action is necessary to compensate, even a little, for the detestable conditions the Florida inmates and inmates all over this country are made to tolerate. Honestly though, the whole damn system needs to be burned to the ground, and the ground where it stood salted, just for good measure.
A system which is unwilling to provide even minimally acceptable treatment for the millions it has abducted from our communities, is not an institution worth preserving. We mustn’t sit by idly waiting for another mass riot/demonstration from prisoners unwilling to be used and abused like we observed in the Attica riots during the 80’s. Like Attica, our attention must be on the struggle of our states prison populations and the plight of all prisoners who demand humane treatment. We must protest en masse at prisons, detention centers, jailhouses and wherever injustice persists to let the world and these institutions see, that our actions in solidarity with inmates everywhere will only intensify unless the institutions immediately meet the demands of the prisoners. Unless enough of us speak up and stand up for the liberation of dehumanized and enslaved individuals, nothing will change. A better world is possible, but it is not guaranteed; it must be dragged kicking and screaming into existence and struggled for with everything we can collectively muster.
In the words of former American Presidential candidate and stalwart of human rights, Eugene Debs, 100 years ago “While there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”