Beyond Prison Reform

On August 21st, inmates in 17 states began one of the largest prison strikes in our history. The two-week peaceful protest will end September 9th. Inmates are abandoning their work duties and some are refusing food to call attention to the exploitive conditions in United States prisons.

We have the largest prison population and the highest per capita incarceration rate in the entire world. Nearly one in every 100 adults is in prison or jail.

Ok, so much of that is known, but how many of us know that corporations and businesses use the prison work force for manufacturing and service jobs? And there is little to no compensation given for injuries resulting from their work. Recent news exposed the story that inmates were given $1 an hour to fight the California fires.

Less widely known is the fact that investment companies enable prison industries to thrive. Your retirement accounts are most likely contributing to these practices amounting to modern day slavery.

This is what we need to know. We need to know these are peaceful protests by inmates asking for their humanity to be recognized and restored. We need to know they are asking for proper wages and for more rehabilitation services. And they are demanding an end to the over-sentencing and parole denials of non-white inmates.

There is much more to this story, like the way lobbying groups fight for more industrialized and privately owned prisons. Much is done behind the closed doors of politics and the media is slow to rise against its master. We cannot fight what we do not see. It is time to open our eyes and unravel this horrible mess we have created.

Support the protest, boycott the companies and divest. It is time.


This aired on WDRT’s Consider This, Thursday, August 23. You can listen to it here.

photo is creative commons on Pixabay.