Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Revolutionary QOTD:
What this country needs is more unemployed politicians.
-Angela Davis.
Amen sister. I recommend we start at the top. I heard Ms. Davis speak several years ago on the campus of Cal-State, Dominguez Hills. At that time she spoke about privatization of the prison system and how communities who have lost their economic base are vying for prisons to be located there to restore their economies. She called it the Punishment Industry, which has never had rehabilitation as its goal. At the same time, especially in California, tougher laws are providing the raw "material" to make those prisons economically feasible. These new laws put people behind bars for longer stretches of time for non-violent offenses they would not have served time for in the past. Crimes such as simple marijuana possession. And of course it is no surprise that the majority of those incarcerated are black and Hispanic. It is a system built on an economic model doomed to fail because the revenue to support it comes from state and federal taxes, not from something that generates real income. It is a literal warehousing of the poor for the crime of being poor.

Now Ms. Davis advocates for the complete abolition of the prison system. A system that does not, as I said above, rehabilitate, but serves as a training ground for criminals. If a person does not go into the system a hardened criminal, they will almost certainly come out as one. The prison system is, she informs us, a form of institutionalized racism. Hers is a radical position, but no more so than the advocating for the abolition of slavery was in the 1700s. Or for the abolition of Jim Crow in the early 1900s. She sets forth her well-reasoned argument, as well as the need for a humane and moral alternative to the prison system, in her book entitled, Are Prisons Obsolete?

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