Before I get into this deep shiite I need to acknowledge everybody that has put this site in their bookmark toolbar. You folks are the reason I am sleep deprived and losing my mind. I thank you though because I have never been more alive either. You challenge me to be a better person than I would be on my own. If time is money you people are helping me get out of debt. As an aside, REGINA from Sweden, your candygram is on its way.

Now let’s get down to business. Literally. I’m sure that most of you have seen mention of the term ‘prison industrial complex’. It’s a term that I’ve heard from activists for many years and I assumed that meant that prisons were using their inmates to produce items that benefitted the administration of the state. Things like license plates and highway signage seemed like a smart idea to me as a way to procure some type of labor from people who were incarcerated anyhoo. We’ve all seen the image of the chain gang that digs trenches and canals for statewide infrastructure projects. In that framework I had no problem with the fact that these people were paid a slave wage for their labor since it was part and parcel of being locked up.

The wormhole goes way deeper than just that bucolic view of prison labor. If you think that HBO’s ‘The Wire’ is the most gangsta shiite evar then please peep the link here to the Maryland Correctional Enterprises Prison Enhancement Program. The Federal government passed legislation during the Carter adminstration that allowed states to form PRIVATE corporations to manage their penitentiary labor forces. These private companies could now charge the state for producing the things they had always created like license plates and highway signage, but even bigger than that is the fact these private corporations could invest in the equipment and facilities to diversify the items that were being made. There is a direct correlation to the disappearance of factories and industrial hubs within the United States. We were led to believe that manufacturing had been outsourced overseas to China. The truth is that manufacturing is still in America, except it is no longer done by unionized workers. It’s done by prison inmates.

The privatization of Americas prisons is fucked the fuck up on a trillion levels. Firstly, as a private sector company it’s first concern must be it’s bottomline and that of the shareholders. The focus of any corporation is to maximize profits and for the prison industrial complex to do this it needs an endless supply of fresh bodies. The more bodies means the more items may be generated for sale. Rehabilitating prisoners, or even releasing them is actually bad for business.

The second reason that this arrangement in anti-American is because it shatters the manufacturing industry that provided real jobs at living wages for real people. By paying people a slave wage for tangible labor these prison industry corporations are creating a permanent underclass. When an inmate is released from the penitentiary he has skills that are only applicable to work inside the penitentiary. It should be no surprise to any fair-minded person why the rates of recidivism have skyrocketed.

I have researched several states that have created these private prison industrial corporations and each one sells their products to public and private entities. It used to be that these corporations only made items for use in the public sector. From furniture and fixtures to state agencies and public schools and other public use facilities. These corporations have begun to craft items that are being sold to private businesses on the internets. At the cost these prison companies are fabricating items you can expect other industries to close shop due to cost overruns and diminshing profit margins.

All I’m saying is that the next time I see a ‘Made In America’ tag you can believe my ass is gonna take pause (no DAME DASH).

11 Responses to “MADE IN AMERICA?!?”

  1. LM says:

    DP, nice work on the “news” and even better work on the analysis. The profit motive is great a lot of the time but when it’s always #1 it’s societally destructive.

  2. sATaLyte says:

    I wonder if that’s where that “American Apparel” ish comes from?

  3. 40 Dawg aka Dr. Archibald Bitchschlapp says:

    Damn B. I never even thought about equating that as a factor for the demise of the American manufacturing infrastructure. Here I’m trying to think on the positive that you got people learning a trade or skill with their hands but when you couple that with a complete lack of opportunities to ply their trade on the outside you’ve only made yourself a master craftsman for the Master… Kramer, cops, now this…


  4. Nigeria says:

    Dallas you got any examples of which products were made by prison inmates.

  5. ELOHEEM STAR says:

    There is a broad list of diffrent companies that use the prison work force in the last 20 years.
    TWA,Toys R Us,AT&T,Verizon,Honda and even Victoria Secrets. Telemarketing is probably one of the most commonly used.

  6. thatwhitedude says:

    the more i think about it and analyze it the more messed up it gets…the elite knew what they were doing during the carter admin and people just let it go by undetected. crazy!

  7. miss ahmad says:

    i have a relative who does legal consultation to the banking industry and about ten years ago he told me that our country had a contract the the people who build foundations for prison that went on until infinity which is to say that as along as America is alive and kicking new prisons will be built…

    What’s worse than the prison labor are new family developments in which families of inmates can come live with them in confined compounds to keep the family unit together.

    What do you think the chances are that a baby born behind bars dies behind bars??

  8. LM says:

    To 40’s point — inmates are learning skills. That’s good. But the fact that there’s a small number of companies have a profit incentive for the number of inmates to rise — bad.

    Those skills can be taught on the outside at lower cost to society as a whole, not to mention that usually said skills can be used to the financial benefit of the skilled and his/her family, which is not happening here. Instead, companies are getting labor at prices akin to what they’d get in Southeast Asia without paying huge shipping and warehouse costs.

    Bottom line, no pun intended (apologies, my comments are getting cliched, eh?), a handful of companies and there shareholders are making money off of society as a whole and the individual inmates, who are there to serve in greater numbers than they would be otherwise. And we know how hungry shareholders are for the numbers to keep rising.

  9. P-Matik says:

    Man, back around 2000, my Zulu Nation chapter put together a huge program at Norfolk State to educate students on the prison industrial complex and to try to kick Sodexho (they provided the campus meals but they are a big player in prison privatization) off of the campus.

    It didn’t work but we tried. In 2006, violent crime is down but brothas still think prison is gonna make you a man.

  10. Gee says:

    While I pride myself on being semi literate I can say this article took me completely by surprise! I cannot believe that the penal system is exploited in that manner! I once saw a clothing line done by prisoners but I thought that that was the exception, not the rule…

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