For decades, the Soviet Gulags under Joseph Stalin had been considered some of the worst prisons in all of history. But now things have changed.
The United States has far exceeded the horrific tolls of the gulags. In the Soviet example, there were more than 18 million victims during the gulags’ use over four decades.
Now, as of 2009, the United States tolls soar higher than 7 million in prison, on probation or in some way caught up in the American prison system.
On the surface that might sound like a lot less than the gulag total above. But when you factor in all who have been put through the US prison system, we find a total that is higher than 19 million. That’s more than the 18 million locked up in the gulag system over those forty years.
Just like the Soviet Gulag System, the American Prison-For-Profit industry sells itself with the pitch that it is about “rehabilitation.” In the former Soviet Union, they called this vospitaniye and perevospitaniye, meaning essentially: “re-education.”
Oddly, however, in the Soviet gulags, prisoners were forced to learn the arts – playing in orchestras and the like. In the United States Gulags, prisoners are forced to make uniforms for McDonald’s and Applebees, or to harvest produce for Whole Foods.It comes as a surprise to many Americans, but slavery was never actually abolished in the United States. That’s not a metaphor, it’s a matter of careful reading of the 13th amendment to the Constitution. That amendment – often lauded for abolishing slavery – actually makes an exception for prisons. Slavery is still completely legal as “punishment for a crime.”
Now, the private prison industries say the government isn’t keeping up their end contracts for this slave labor.Those government agencies signed contracts guaranteeing a minimum occupancy or quota of prisoner-slaves
California guarantees that prisons will be filled to 70% capacity at all times. Arizona promises almost 100% occupancy.
With crime dropping, the private prison industry is losing money and they are none too pleased.
In order to avoid these lawsuits, judges will have to dish out extra-long maximum sentences – not because the defendant deserves it, but because the state wants to keep these contracts in good standing with the private prison industry.
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