Prison Industrial Complex: the truth about prisons

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The prison industrial complex (PIC) refers to the rapid increase in incarceration rates due to the privatization of the prison system.  Instead of being government run, the prisons are now mostly run by private prison businesses and companies.  Due to this, prisons now run like any other capitalist industry: they need a lot of labor for cheap.

And what better way to get a lot of labor for cheap, then to incarcerate a lot of individuals- predominantly minority- and make them work for free?

This has become reality for the American prison systems.

Today, minority men, mainly black, are incarcerated at a startlingly higher number then their white counterparts.  These men are then forced to do labor in the name of profit; instead, of spending time being rehabilitated and punished for their wrong doings.

But does it surprise you that the men mainly incarcerated to do this labor are from the minority gene pool? It does not surprise me.  This is a way to extend and prolong a different form of slavery. A form of slavery that is legal and masked by the term: prison inmate.

I understand people go to jail for doing bad things; however, it is daunting how disproportionate the numbers are.

According to Factoid: Black Male Incarceration Rate is 6 Times Greater Than Rate for White Males:

Statistics from the Department of Justice indicate that black males are incarcerated – held in prison or jail – at a rate that is over 6 times higher than that for white males.


For every 100,000 black males, an estimated 4,777 are held in federal or state prison or a local jail.

By contrast, for every 100,000 white men, only 727 are estimated to be incarcerated.

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It is not a mistake that 40 percent of Blacks are incarcerated, even though they make up only 13 percent of the population. And it is not a mistake that for every 100,000 blacks, 4,777 are incarcerated, compared to 727 whites. Instead, this is a systematic way of keeping a race down, while elevating another one.While in prison, these families face many hardships, including poverty, education, etc.  They lose an income, they lose a parent and they lose a loved one to a system that is designed to work against them.  It is designed to keep them down, when there are already so many forces- like patriarchy, white supremacy, the economy, etc- holding them back.

This will only get worst. People need to understand what is at work in America. Too many people walk around with rose-colored glasses. They do not know the truth.  Now I understand that America is a lot more just that other nations; however, I simply cannot stand the hypocrisy that lies within our nation.

We are a nation driven by greed, capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy.  All these forces work against the majority of the population.  We preach justice and equality, but it is not what we practice. Instead, we hold one race above them all- and it shows.

In order to be just and equal, our society needs to stand up and begin incarcerating people at an equal rate and we need to begin allotting jail time equally- instead of favoring one race against another.

The PIC needs to stop. Prisons can no longer be a force for capitalist intentions; instead, these prisons need to return to being rehabilitation centers that foster new law abiding citizens.

related articles: The New Yorker


About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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