I have recently become aware of a shocking situation in American prisons that I felt compelled to check out and share. It’s complicated, and it makes me feel physically uncomfortable. When there are crazy reactions of banning American politicians on UK soil as an in-kind retaliation to his ill-informed, unsubstantiated claims, I am concerned that America is not dealing with (perpetuating?) the institutionalised truths of it’s own issues as we follow their lead in international affairs. Below the video are some bullet points that are cross-referenced; there could be many more. My attention was drawn to the issue through this QI clip on Facebook:
- “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Library of Congress
- The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. NY Times, 2008 (comparative statistics on source)
- “The new statistics for the United States show large racial disparities, with black males incarcerated at a rate more than 6.5 times that of white males and 2.5 that of Hispanic males. Black females are incarcerated at approximately three times the rate of white females and twice that of Hispanic females.” Human Rights Watch (statistics from US Department of Justice)
- “In 1980, when Ronald Reagan became president, there were 400,000 prisoners in the U.S. today [04 Feb 2013] the number exceeds 2.3 million.” Global Research
- “Prisoners earning 23 cents an hour in U.S. federal prisons are manufacturing high-tech electronic components for Patriot Advanced Capability 3 missiles, launchers for TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) anti-tank missiles, and other guided missile systems.” Also, Global Research
- “in 2008, the US Bureau of Justice reported that one in three black men would go to prison in his lifetime” Open Democracy
- “Over the last 30 years [80s, 90s, 00s], at least 37 states have enacted laws permitting the use of convict labor by private enterprise, with an average pay of $0.93 to $4.73 per day.” Alternet.org
- This site contains a 13 minute film about a prison that was a slave plantation in Angola, Louisiana, wherein prisoners occupied slave quarters. The Atlantic, 21 Sept 2015.
Be aware. Be very aware.
Also published on Medium.