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The US outdoes the "Gulag Archipielago"

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Post 28 Mar 2014, 07:55 ... ail-2012-3

The "War on Drugs" means that now six million people are now in jail in the United states.

And it's also a relatively new phenomenon: In 1980, the U.S. only had 150 prisoners per 100,000 citizens.

Currently? it has 760 prisioners per 100,000 citizens. That's over a 450% increase in three decades.

Partly as a result, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education in the past 20 years. In 2011, California spent $9.6 billion on prisons vs. $5.7 billion on the UC system and state colleges. Since 1980, California has built one college campus and 21 prisons. A college student costs the state $8,667 per year; a prisoner costs it $45,006 a year.

The quote that is mentioned in that article comes from this article: ... ntPage=all

For most privileged, professional people, the experience of confinement is a mere brush, encountered after a kid’s arrest, say. For a great many poor people in America, particularly poor black men, prison is a destination that braids through an ordinary life, much as high school and college do for rich white ones. More than half of all black men without a high-school diploma go to prison at some time in their lives. Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today—perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850. In truth, there are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system—in prison, on probation, or on parole—than were in slavery then. Over all, there are now more people under “correctional supervision” in America—more than six million—than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height. That city of the confined and the controlled, Lockuptown, is now the second largest in the United States.

The scale and the brutality of our prisons are the moral scandal of American life. Every day, at least fifty thousand men—a full house at Yankee Stadium—wake in solitary confinement, often in “supermax” prisons or prison wings, in which men are locked in small cells, where they see no one, cannot freely read and write, and are allowed out just once a day for an hour’s solo “exercise.” (Lock yourself in your bathroom and then imagine you have to stay there for the next ten years, and you will have some sense of the experience.)
Post 28 Mar 2014, 15:03
Those are the kinds of statistics that are hard to argue with.

Of course, gulags had hard labour to death and were filled with many good Marxists so the quantity over quality problem is present.

However, doesn't take away from the fact Murrika is not the land of the free and home of the brave, but a place with arbitrary incarceration based on Protestant morality. Locking people up for smoking a doobie... I'm not even super pro-drugs or anything but bloody hell!
Post 29 Mar 2014, 03:48
I'm no fan of unrestricted access to drugs either, but it's pretty clear that US drug laws have been a very handy way to maintain class warfare (and plenty of racism too) under terms which appear much more politically neutral.

I would expect that now that political will and public support for draconian drug laws seems to be waning they'll turn towards using pretexts like terrorism and censorship to maintain both their stranglehold on Capital and the GULAG needed to protect it. The usefulness in allowing worker movements to destroy themselves with drugs is becoming evident now that other pretexts are available.

It's really only going to get worse as technology makes it more and more practical for a small group to oppress a larger one.
Post 29 Mar 2014, 14:21
Another aspect of the issue is the rise of private prison companies. These companies have an incentive to see more people locked up and this is especially true for young, non-white prisoners as they are more profitable to incarcerate. ... e-prisons/
Post 30 Mar 2014, 03:08
It's a race and class issue... An example is the 100:1 crack to powder cocaine ratio, which if I recall correctly they reduced a bit.
Post 30 Mar 2014, 09:08
What's worse is that the war on drugs has created a brutal war in Mexico, killing over 100,000 people. All in all it's such a horrible situation that I can't even imagine a way out. Even partial or complete legalization and taxation, moving resources to the medical and psychiatric fields, release of all drug-use related prisoners wouldn't resolve things; even after this war is declared a failure, it will take several generations of ruined lives to truly mitigate this problem.
Post 30 Mar 2014, 19:08
US has more prisoners per head than Russia these days, right?


Apparently it's doubled since 2008 as well.

And imagine how many private contractor scavengers are feeding on all of this.
Post 22 Apr 2014, 18:10
sans-culotte wrote:
US has more prisoners per head than Russia these days, right?

By leaps and bounds, actually. Not even Rwanda comes close, or the supposed "gulag state" Cuba. ... ation_rate
Post 25 Apr 2014, 21:36
Wow, I remember we had a parity as the top two in the mid 00s. Something went very bad in the US since then.
Post 25 Apr 2014, 22:09
We realized there was money to be made off of prisoners.
Post 26 Apr 2014, 08:55
The denial of voting rights for felons also disenfranchise a great deal of these people. The disproportionate attack on American people of color during the war on drugs, partially through that method, has enabled a kind of vertical gerrymandering on the part of capitalists most conducive for the prison industrial complex and the invokers of racism you find winning the hearts and minds of my equally oblivious and numerous compatriots. About 40-50 years of this and the problem entrenches itself to a terrifying degree.

The prison industry is built on a solid bed of AstroTurf. Judges are voted in often for their image as "tough on crime." It feels like a confirmation of Marxism to see that the principle obstacle to solving the problem is ultimately that workers aren't being reached, at least not enough. This is easily among the worst of capitalism's specific harms and among its most depressing.
Post 26 Apr 2014, 09:13
sans wrote:
Wow, I remember we had a parity as the top two in the mid 00s. Something went very bad in the US since then.

In Russia's case it's a somewhat different story; there it's mostly related to the fact that as a borderline third world country, and without powerful social and moral institutions in society, crime often appears to be an attractive proposition in the 'risk vs. reward' calculation. The 'nothing to lose' principle was very powerful and accurate for many young Russian men in the 90s, and for many still is today. Of course that principle also exists in the US, since there too the allure of easy money, the constant cultural pressure toward wealth and success, the call for strong independent masculinity, these things definitely play a role in the cultivation of the criminal mindset, and naturally things have only gotten worse since the beginning of the 2008 recession/depression, when in the midst of middle and lower classes falling on hard times, the wealthy have become only more decadent. Still, unlike in the US, in Russia drug use by itself doesn't generally result in incarceration.
Post 26 Apr 2014, 09:22
Red_Son brings up an invaluable point, and probably the most interesting one out of the whole thread. Thread triumphantly won.
Post 26 Apr 2014, 12:33
It's sick that the state would pay private prisons a extortionate amount, more than it cost to privately educate someone, than claim that they can't fund social services, due to public debts and budget deficits. The fact that most of these prisoners are not violent just makes it worse in my view. It shows how much the state has been captured by bourgeois interests.

Part of the blame lies with the public because they believe in this "tough on crime" racist BS and perpetuate crime as prison is basically a university for criminals and being shut out of the legitimate economy will make committing crimes a necessity to feed themselves.

Regarding Red_Son's video, I'm glad he said that because he just discredited himself and I can't wait to see this guy six-feet under.
I hope the irony is not lost on him because he has leeched from government property for decades and is more parasitical than the vast majority of blacks (suggesting that the vast majority of poor does disservice to the white working-class, who have been shafted by capitalism).
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