Hundreds of thousands of immigrants are being kept (and forced to work) in immigrant detention centers for crossing a border every year. Along with the necessary question of Who Benefits? (largely private corporations), this raises other questions: Which is the crime? Crossing a border? Or keeping immigrants captive for money? This is not new in the age of Trump. Obama (who deported more people than all other presidents of the century before him, combined) detained large numbers of families in prison setting the stage for Trump’s policies today. For more on this stage setting, check out Cruel and immoral: America must close the doors of its immigration prisons by C.C. Garcia Hernandez, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/17/family-separation-family-detention-immigration. If you would like to see stats on immigrants in detention centers check out Freedom for Immigrants site: https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/detention-statistics/
Today, I heard another instance of there being “not enough money” to appropriately fund a predominately Black and Latino high school’s course offerings. This time the school is Jefferson High in Los Angeles. Students will not get the courses they need to graduate on time. Students will have to repeat classes they have already passed. Where do they turn? What does that slick saying “When one door closes, another one opens” mean for young people in this school? What options are we giving our precious youth when “not enough money” is seen as a good enough reason to block vital opportunities for some, when there is plenty of money available for war, prisons, and yachts? Is this democracy? Justice?
It’s mind-boggling that a society professing moral democratic superiority around the world would stand by as Black and Latino children get pushed out of schools into what very likely will be an incarcerated future. And yet, that is what is happening here and now. If you would like to know about the school to prison pipeline check out ACLU’s source page.
We are a society of false imprisonment. Human beings searching for ways to live safely, contentedly with their people being locked up in bad jobs, no jobs, detention centers, prisons, forced military service and despair. What kind of society is this?
Private Prison Corporations, such as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, are in the business of making money. One of the ways they do this is to make sure their prisons are filled to the max since they are paid per prisoner. Immigrants, minor offenders, the aged, people up for parole are kept locked up. These companies insert a “lock-up quota” into contracts to ensure states keep their prison 80–100% filled. They work to ensure legislation that will bring more people into the system, and fight against alternatives to jail time by hiring dozens of lobbyists to act on their behalf. Something is not right here.
There has been a staggering increase in the numbers of women in prison in the last few decades, largely due to the “War on Drugs” Many of these women began their journey as battered women seeking solace in an environment devoid of support services. They turned to drugs or alcohol to numb pain and then to petty crimes to pay for the numbing. Do they really need prison? Or do we need stronger economies, communities and supportive social institutions?
Staggering, isn’t it? We are tops in locking up people. Something to be proud of?