Surprising Modern Day Slavery: The USA Prison System

Slavery in the USA Prison System

DID YOU KNOW? Privately held prisons and privately-run immigration detention facilities are on the STOCK MARKET? I learned a lot about this while campaigning with Farouk for Governor in TX. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work for lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The prison industry is one of the fastest-growing in the USA and its investors are on Wall Street. And it gets even worse: the 340% increase in Americans behind bars was funded, in part, by corporations looking for cheap labor. Dozens of respected companies funded the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which passed the “Prison Industries Act” to expand inmate labor.

Today, even the federal government brags about the “business opportunities” at dozens of federal prison factories across the country.

Republican Oregon State Representative
Kevin Mannix

DID YOU KNOW???
Republican Oregon State Representative Kevin Mannix urged Nike to cut its production in Indonesia and bring it to his state, telling the shoe manufacturer that “there won’t be any transportation costs; we’re offering you competitive prison labor here.”

This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.

WHO IS INVESTING?????
At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. Under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), employers receive a tax credit of $2,400 for every work-release inmate they employ as a reward for hiring “risky target groups.” The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: McDonalds uses prison labor to make its uniforms. Starbucks used them in the past to package holiday coffee. Revlon, Macy’s, Verizon and Sprint. For a complete list https://is.gd/16kvMM.

Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries like Texas do not receive any compensation and are allowed to work up to 12 hours per day. In Colorado, they get about $2 per hour.

Thanks to prison labor, the USA is once again an attractive location for investment in work that was designed for 3rd World labor markets. A company that operated a maquiladora (assembly plant in Mexico near the border) closed down its operations there and relocated to San Quentin State Prison in California. In Texas, a factory fired its 150 workers and contracted the services of prisoner-workers from the private Lockhart Texas prison, where circuit boards are assembled for companies like IBM and Compaq.

In privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is Core Civic Inc. in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call “highly skilled positions.” At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month.

DID YOU KNOW???
On average our country is spending $100,000 per inmate and less than $10,000/year is being spent per student. There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country.

The USA has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population 5 times greater than U.S. USA holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people.

From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. Profit potential for those who invest in the prison industry complex are jailing persons convicted of non-violent crimes, and long prison sentences for possession of microscopic quantities of illegal drugs.

A guard watches as detainees fold clothes at an immigration detention center run by the private corrections corporation GEO Group in Bakersfield.
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

DID YOU KNOW???
The prison privatization boom began in the 1980s, under the governments of Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., but reached its height in the 1990s under the Clinton administration when Wall Street stocks were selling like hotcakes.

Clinton’s program for cutting the federal workforce resulted in the Justice Departments contracting of private prison corporations for the incarceration of undocumented workers and high-security inmates.

Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison industry complex. About 18 corporations guard 10,000 prisoners in 27 states. The two largest are Core Civic Inc. and the GEO Group, which together control 75%.

Private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner, independent of what it costs to maintain each one.

Core Civic Inc. used to be CCA

In Core Civic Inc. prisons, inmates may get their sentences reduced for “good behavior,” but for any infraction, they get 30 days added – which means more profits for Core Civic Inc. These inmates lose good behavior time at a rate of 8 times higher than those in state prisons.

DID YOU KNOW???
IMPORTING AND EXPORTING INMATES profits are so good that now there is a new business: importing inmates with long sentences, meaning the worst criminals. When a federal judge ruled that overcrowding in Texas prisons was cruel and unusual punishment, Core Civic Inc. signed contracts with sheriffs in poor counties to build and run new jails and share the profits.

Investors from Merrill-Lynch, Shearson-Lehman, American Express and Allstate, and the operation was scattered all over rural Texas. That state’s governor, Democrat Ann Richards, followed the example of Democrat Mario Cuomo in New York and built so many state prisons that the market became flooded, cutting into the private prison profits.

After a law signed by Clinton in 1996 – ending court supervision and decisions – caused overcrowding and violent, unsafe conditions in federal prisons, private prison corporations in Texas began to contact other states whose prisons were overcrowded, offering “rent-a-cell” services in the Core Civic Inc. prisons located in small towns in Texas. The commission for a rent-a-cell salesman is $2.50 to $5.50 per day per bed. The county gets $1.50 for each prisoner.

DID YOU KNOW???
Prison labor has its roots in slavery. After the 1861-1865 Civil War, a system of “hiring out prisoners” was introduced in order to continue the slavery tradition. Freed slaves were charged with not carrying out their sharecropping commitments (cultivating someone else’s land in exchange for part of the harvest) or petty thievery – which were almost never proven – and were then “hired out” for cotton picking, working in mines and building railroads.

From 1870 until 1910 in the state of Georgia, 88% of hired-out convicts were Black. In Alabama, 93% of “hired-out” miners were Black. In Mississippi, a huge prison farm similar to the old slave plantations replaced the system of hiring out convicts. The notorious Parchman plantation existed until 1972.

DID YOU KNOW???
97% of 125,000 federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes. It is believed that more than half of the 623,000 inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Of these, the majority are awaiting trial. 2/3 of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. 16% of the country’s 2 million prisoners suffer from mental illness.

California Governor Gavin Newsom

In California, our Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that will end the use of private prisons and privately-run immigration detention facilities.

Under the new law, California will phase out the use of these for-profit, private detention facilities by 2028. The state will be prohibited from renewing contracts or signing new contracts with a private prison company after January 1, 2020

The Trump administration sued the state of California, asserting that a new state law that bans for-profit prison contracts unconstitutionally interferes with the federal prison and immigration detention systems.

In December 2019, Federal officials signed nearly $6.5 billion in contracts with private prison companies for immigration detention centers.

PRESIDENT OBAMA IS SET TO APPOINT EDITH RAMIREZ AS CHAIRWOMAN OF THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

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President Obama is set to appoint Edith Ramirez as the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), making her the top Latina with oversight over matters such as consumer protection, fraud prevention, deceptive and unfair business practices, and online privacy protection. Ms. Ramirez is a former law school colleague of President Obama and since 2010, she has served as a commissioner at the FTC where she has been a driving force in maintaining robust competition and innovation in the high-tech marketplace.

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Before joining the commission, she was a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in Los Angeles, where she represented clients on matters of antitrust, intellectual property and unfair competition. As a commissioner, Ms. Ramirez has spoken strongly in favor of self-regulation and voluntary codes of conduct among companies involved in international trade. At a commission workshop on cross-border consumer protection in November, she said that self-regulation was “an important tool for consumer protection that potentially can respond more quickly and efficiently than government regulation.”

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Edith Ramirez will replace Jon Leibowitz as chief of the FTC and her new role leaves an opening for a third Democratic member on the five member commission.

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SUPREME COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS CHALLENGING THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

The Supreme Court in Washington

PHOTO: The Supreme Court. REUTERS

Today the Supreme Court hears arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, a case challenging the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).  In 1965, following a civil rights movement demonstration in Selma, Alabama, which ended in bloodshed, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act and catapulted the civil rights movement by making discriminatory practices that disenfranchised voters illegal.

 

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The 15th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited states from denying a male citizen the right to vote based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” However, continuing discriminatory practices like poll taxes and mandatory literacy tests prevented African Americans from voting and in 1965 Congress passed the VRA. Section 5 of the VRA prohibits discrimination based on race, critical in specific states with historical and documented discriminatory restrictions on voting.

 

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These particular jurisdictions are prevented from making changes in their election requirements without first getting pre-approval from the federal government. Section 2 of the VRA bars the use of voting practices or procedures that discriminate against minority voters.

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During the 2012 Presidential election there were many attempts to disenfranchise voters with attempts to pass voter ID laws that prevented minorities and elderly people from exercising their Constitutional right to vote. Long voting lines and last minute changes to polling sites are every bit as oppressive as the poll taxes that dominated past elections before the passing of the VRA of 1965.
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“Texas, for example, proposed a stringent voter ID law that had the purpose to prevent minority voter participation which the Supreme Court found violated Section 5 of the VRA,” said LULAC National Executive Director Brent Wilkes. “It’s outrageous to minority voters to suggest that the VRA is outdated in light of recent attempts by states to disenfranchise voters. The progress we’ve made has been solely because of the protections offered by the VRA, and any distinctions made are attempts to manipulate the law for political advantage.” The League of United Latin American Citizens is rallying on February 27th on the steps of the Supreme Court in order to reinforce to the Court that the Voting Rights Act protects real voters from discrimination.

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“Transforming the Ordinary to EXTRAordinary!” – CEO – JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ– Creator of The Hispanic Blog #thehispanicblog

NEW YORK FARM BUREAU IS FOCUSING ON IMMIGRATION REFORM

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

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Gordon M. Grant for The New York Times

“Immigration is a key issue for New York farms and employees and for consumers who want to continue to enjoy fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products,” said NYFB Public Policy Director Julie Suarez. “Without a stable workforce, food doesn’t get picked, cows don’t get milked and farms don’t have products to take to market.”
NYFB is pushing for a program that provides legitimate visa status for workers already here but may sometimes have questionable documentation and who are willing and able to do the work that farmers depend on. These are workers who come from other countries for jobs that farmers try to fill first with local employees but are often unsuccessful. These reforms, the Farm Bureau said, should include both contract and non-contract options for the flexibility that farmers and workers need for labor protections, especially for the state’s fruit and vegetable growers.

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Farms in upstate New York: Photo by Keturah Stickann/John Menier (CC)

Speaking to reporters during a press conference, NYFB outlined three key areas it is targeting including the passage of a new Farm Bill, substantial immigration reform that recognizes New York’s farm needs, and funding for disaster assistance.
NYFB is also focusing on making sure New York’s farmers are represented in any immigration reform package that works its way through Washington, and is promoting changes that address both short and long term farm labor needs in New York.

READ MORE: North Country Now

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THE TEA PARTY BEGINS ITS LATINO OUTREACH INITIATIVE

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The Tea Party group that sponsored a prime-time response last week to President Obama’s State of the Union address is the latest group recognizing the power of the Latino vote. Officials with the Tea Party Express, the nation’s largest Tea Party political action committee, have been discussing their own Latino outreach, said Sal Russo, the group’s co-founder.
“We’ve been trying to do a bus tour that would focus on communities that we don’t normally talk to,” Russo said.

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Sal Russo Co-Founder of the Tea Party

Russo, who worked for Ronald Reagan when he was California governor, said the former president had a rule that any campaigning should include voters who didn’t traditionally pick Republicans.  “He believed in going to labor unions, going to places where you don’t normally go, so people could hear his message about cutting taxes and growing the economy,” he said.
Officials of Tea Party groups — national and smaller, local ones — like to point out these days that some of the nation’s most prominent Latino politicians, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, were Tea Party candidates

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The plans by the Tea Party, widely viewed by many liberals as being antithetical to the interests and well-being of minorities, follows an announcement last week by House Republicans about a new, ambitious Latino outreach campaign.  On Feb 11, the House Republican Conference, which essentially represents the chamber’s GOP, launched a Spanish-language Twitter account, @gopespanol. The account is part of a broader plan – still being hashed out – to reach out to Hispanics, and repair their image with them.

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“It’s a recognition that we, as Republicans, did not do as well as we hoped in the 2012 elections with a number of groups – with young people, with women, and with Hispanics,” said Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who is chairperson of the conference and was the House GOP liaison to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Not all Republicans and conservatives are on board with the efforts to court Latinos, particularly when it involves relying on Spanish. Some the most conservative Republicans in the House, for instance, see it as pandering.

Steve-King

Representative Steve King

In an interview with the National Journal, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said he is opposed to trying to reach out to Latinos in Spanish. “There’s a conflicting message that comes out from the Republicans if we want to recognize the unifying power of English, and meanwhile, we send out communications in multiple languages,” said King, who has one of the most hard-line approaches to immigration. “Official business and documents needs to be in English.”

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The 2012 presidential elections, and the critical role that Latinos played in the victory of President Barack Obama, led to soul-searching on the part of many Republicans. Romney won only 27 percent support from Hispanics and even less from Asians in the 2012 presidential election. And an AP-GFK poll last month showed 62 percent of voters want to let otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants eventually become citizens — up 12 percentage points from 2010.
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Tea Party members say Latinos, and other minorities, are as critical to their future as the Republicans are finding they are to the future of their party. “The bus tour is the iconic symbol of the Tea Party,” Russo said. “When we’ve gone to some states, like Texas, we’ve had good Hispanic participation. We’re trying to do a [national] bus tour that would be more directed that way.” “We want to try to get our email communication and our website in Spanish,” Russo said. “The Tea Party movement has been successful using social media – emails, Twitter, Facebook. That’s how people found out about us. We have to communicate directly”
READ MORE: FOX NEWS LATINO

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