The Prison Industrial Complex

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In the last thirty years, incarceration rates have skyrocketed to four times of that in 1980, with 1 in every 31 adults being under some form of correctional control. (“Criminal Justice Fact Sheet”) The US now houses 25% of the world’s prisoners, despite containing only 5% of the world’s population. (Khalek) Many factors have contributed to this sharp increase in incarcerations, including zero-tolerance policies, and the school-to-prison pipeline and the War on Drugs (“Criminal Justice Fact Sheet”). However, the largest contributors are the prison industrial complex, which targets and criminalizes minority groups, and the dependence of for-profit prisons on inmate count and prison labor. Privatized prisons made a comeback during the 1980s,…show more content…
What is Abolition?”) Essentially, the prison industrial complex benefits corporations with prison-related investments, like third party prison companies, by creating propaganda to convince the public of the need for prisons (CARA) and to criminalize and perpetuate stereotypes of marginalized groups such as people of color, immigrants, youth, and queer people. (Herzing) The prison industrial complex (PIC) also enforces structural power by skewing playing fields like courts and the media in favor of privileged individuals, most often white and rich.…show more content…
(Sloan) Inmates package coffee for Starbucks, sew lingerie for Victoria’s Secret, and, ironically, make duty belts and handcuff cases for police officers. (Winter), In 2010, BP hired eleven inmates to clean up the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead’s explosion. Those prisoners had had their clothes changed to disguise them as ordinary civilians. BP, like many other corporations utilizing prison labor, also received tax write-offs for it under the WOTC. Some claim that prison labor is a good way to prepare prisoners for post-release employment. However, more often than not, prisoners are exposed to menial and often dangerous work that rarely proves useful is post-release life. (Khalek) Prison labor also contributes to unemployment, as most jobs are taken from free civilians who, unlike prisoners, have to be paid a minimum wage and be provided with work benefits and days off. (Khalek). With the increasing privatization of prisons, these third-party corporations have a lot invested in the amount of prisoners occupying those prisons. Inmate numbers need to be kept up to increase the pay per prisoner, as well as satisfy private prisons’ occupancy and increase the amount of workforce

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