The US Slave Trade Never Ended. It Just Got Sanctioned and Became More Advanced
Look carefully. It’s still happening, you fuckers.
I was reluctant to write about this subject —mainly because I am a white person living in Australia, and I feel underqualified.
So I mulled over the topic for a few months and started reading about the privatisation of the Australian prison system (replicating the US as always) and the parallel discrimination toward imprisoning aboriginal people. It got me going.
Then, this morning, I read an article by Garfield Hylton, and it triggered me.
So I decided to go ahead and write.
The Slave Trade is Alive and Well.
And if you still think that democracy means freedom, you need to go and dump a bucket of ice over your head like it’s one of those moronic ice bucket challenges from 2014.
Take a look at this chart:
It's clear from the graph that something happened around 1980 onward that caused a stonking increase in people being locked up.
Did people suddenly become more mischievous? Did the birth of electro-pop or the excessive use of hairspray force people into a life of crime?
Or, could it be that in 1983, three demons from the underworld named Thomas Beasley, Doctor R. Crants, and T. Don Hutto started the Corrections Corporation of America, the world’s first private prison company? (Source)
I know what you are thinking.
It's just a massive coincidence that this unprecedented rise in incarcerated people just happened to coincide with the privatisation of the US prison system, right?
Well no, it wasn’t just that. This fresh all-American apple pie startup needed some help from people in higher places.
They found it by way of Ronald Regan’s war on drugs:
The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 strengthened the system of mandatory minimum sentencing, and added provisions for other types of drugs. Mandatory minimum sentences have been criticized for being inflexible and unfair, and have contributed to the overall trend of prison overcrowding in the United States. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 49.8% of inmates, about 100,000 people, are currently incarcerated due to a drug offense. Less than 30% of inmates are violent offenders. (Crimemuseum.org)
But surely, this war on drugs was a well-researched, well-planned strategy to look after the needs of the American people, right?
Not according to Eric Sterling, a former lawyer for the House Judiciary Committee who confirmed that:
We had no hearings. We did not consult with the Bureau of Prisons, or with the federal judiciary, or with DEA, or with the Justice Department, to at least find out from those folks what would be the effect of mandatory minimums.(The Atlantic)
So suddenly, you have a corporation whose profits depend on more people being incarcerated, and you have a president who is willing to help them out by incarcerating more people.
The US prison system houses over 2.3 million Americans — almost a quarter of the world’s prison population (SBS)
In addition to being paid for their services by governments, private prisons sell labour to the highest bidder.
All told, nearly a million prisoners are now making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing, while getting paid somewhere between 93 cents and $4.73 per day.(Huffpost)
Besides producing thousands of items for the US military, these prisoners work for endless private organisations, including many of your favourites — McDonald's, Wendy’s, Starbucks, Walmart.
More than 4,100 companies in the U.S. profit from mass incarceration (Source)
And yes, you heard that correctly. Prisoners get paid 0.93 to 4.73 per day.
This is for a full day’s work, often twelve hours or more.
To put this in perspective, the US national minimum wage — commonly viewed nowadays as slave wages — is $7.25 an hour (US Dept of Labour), and the highest-paid prisoner gets less than ten percent of that.
But wait. Since the HuffPost reported those figures, things have changed a little. According to the Prison Policy Initiative:
The average of the minimum daily wages paid to incarcerated workers for non-industry prison jobs is now 86 cents, down from 93 cents reported in 2001. The average maximum daily wage for the same prison jobs has declined more significantly, from $4.73 in 2001 to $3.45 today.
Aren’t these ‘wages’ nothing more than a disclaimer to prevent accusations of outright slavery? Why is this still acceptable? Our so-called democratic governments are selling citizens to the highest bidder, in many cases, for doing nothing more than smoking a joint.
On the NPR podcast, Host Cardiff Garcia speaks to a former prison inmate:
My day would start at 4 a.m. I would go into the kitchen. I would make the breakfast for 1,200 men. I would work lunch. I would work dinner. And I’d make $2.25 a day.
That’s $2.25 for more than 12 hours of work. After taxes (That’s Right, Taxes!), Dominique says they would take home about $54 a month, and most of that money went towards paying for things like phone calls, which could cost upwards of $5 per call or items from the canteen, like a bag of Doritos, which might be $5. Dominique says they might spend an entire day’s pay on one deodorant stick. (npr.org)
If that story doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, you need to damn well work on yourself. What kind of sick, degenerate system of evil pays humans $2.25 a day and charges them double that to talk to their families? It’s truly upsetting.
If the system wasn’t already a nasty, dystopian reality. Here is what takes it to the next level.
According to the New York Times:
Vincent Schiraldi, the president of the Justice Policy Institute, noted the report found that the number of black men in jail or prison grew three times as fast from 1980 to 2000 as the rise in the number of black men in colleges and universities.
The increase in the black male prison population coincides with the prison construction boom that began 1980. At that time, three times more black men were enrolled in institutions of higher learning than behind bars. The study found that in 2000 there were 791,600 black men in jail or prison and 603,032 enrolled in colleges or universities. By contrast, the study said that in 1980 there were 143,000 black men in jail or prison but 463,700 enrolled in colleges or universities.
Reread these sickening facts. Before the privatisation of prisons, black men were three times more likely to go to college than prison. In the year 2000, there were more black men in prison than there were studying in college.
Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at nearly 5 times the rate of white Americans.
Nationally, one in 81 Black adults in the U.S. is serving time in state prison. Wisconsin leads the nation in Black imprisonment rates; one of every 36 Black Wisconsinites is in prison.
In 12 states, more than half the prison population is Black: Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
Seven states maintain a Black/white disparity larger than 9 to 1: California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Wisconsin.
Latin American individuals are incarcerated in state prisons at a rate that is 1.3 times the incarceration rate of whites. Ethnic disparities are highest in Massachusetts, which reports an ethnic differential of 4.1:1.
In 2016 the Obama Administration moved to phase out the use of private prisons in the US. However, in 2017 Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew the directive because of concern for the federal correctional system’s ability “to meet future needs.” (Reuters)
The US slave trade never ended. It just evolved, and yet, some still wonder why people like Garfield Hyton are afraid of cops.
It’s unbelievable that people still think that their government cares for them.
There is no conscience in government. There is no morality. Our governments are nothing more than a system of non-sentient rules that exist to grow the economy.
The only times they consider the views or feelings of citizens is when votes are involved. Understand this. Before making any moral decision, a government will always check how they poll with the people that the decision will impact.
I read Garfield Hylton’s article several times. In it, he wondered whether he was just being paranoid about the cops pulling him over.
If you had diamonds for eyeballs, wouldn’t you also be paranoid?
It’s not just because of the inherent racism conditioned into white people.
It’s not just because of the poor police recruitment methods that attract power-hungry testosterone-soaked nutcases and give them weapons and power.
Garfield Hylton also lives in a country with a government that views him not as a human being but as an asset to be owned and put to work in exchange for gold.
Isn’t that the very definition of slavery?
Images: Studee.com, Wikicommons