IMC NEWS BLAST | August 20, 2001 |
THE UNITED STATES' PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
by Indymedia News Blast Team
A compilation of notices, stories and opinions posted to the Independent Media Center network, http://www.indymedia.org concerning the United States' prison-industrial complex, inspired by the Philadelphia IMC's coverage of last week's American Correctional Association yearly convention.
A. DEVELOPMENTS: URGENT AND UPCOMING
B. THE UNITED STATES' PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
D. ADDITIONAL IMC COVERAGE
A. DEVELOPMENTS: URGENT AND UPCOMING
1. GLOBAL ACTION DAY FOR GENOA--OUR RESISTANCE CONTINUES! (8/20)
by Anti capitalist activists 4:50am Sat Aug 4 '01
Anti-capitalist activists around the globe plan a day of action on August 20 to mark the first month anniversary of Carlo Giuliani's death. Also, see updated listing of G8 solidarity protests:g8solidarity.protest.net.
2. UPDATE FROM THE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT FOR PALESTINE
by George Rishmawi (forwarded) 6:21pm Mon Aug 13 '01
This post asks "How can we support the non-violent Palestinians and Israelis?" and provides and article by the Danish Red Cross assessing the costs of aid work by human rights workers in Palestine.
3. WORLD BANK/IMF PROTEST IN DC (9/29-30) AND OTHER EVENTS.
Lists of upcoming mobilizations including against the World Bank / IMF: 9/28 to 9/29. For details on mobilizations and counter-summit(s) planned around the WB/IMF meetings, see: http://www.september30.org/s30/
B. FEATURE: AMERICA'S PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
This past week's convention of the American Correctional Association, the United States' most powerful body of prison industry policymakers and corporations that profit from the increasing privatization of America's prisons, was the target of substantial criticism from community members who believe there must be alternatives to the nation's current penal system. There are presently over two million Americans incarcerated -- the largest prison population of any nation, costing approximately $40 billion yearly to maintain -- and over six million Americans are either in prison, on parole or on probation. The prison population is disproportionally composed of members of minority groups, and nearly two-thirds of those in prison are there for non-violent offenses, primarily due to the "Drug War" and efforts to criminalize sex work.
Activists in Philadelphia faced ACA's yearly meeting over the course of the week, calling into question, with a counter-convention and a series of street demonstrations, the basis of the "prison-industrial complex." Activists asked whether corporations that profit from incarceration would ever support efforts to re-conceive the American justice system in a way that would value humanity over punishment. As government and corporations build more prisons, and with the growing number of political prisoners, inmates on death row and a continued increase in incidents of police brutality, both inside and outside of the system, many question the merits of running a social institution so important to the well-being of society as a profit-generating institution. This echoes the call of social movements around the world to halt International Monetary Fund-imposed privatization of government institutions.
1. THE AMERICAN CORRECTIONAL ASSOCIATION FACES A COUNTER
By Hannah Sassaman, Philadelphia IMC, 12:35am, Sat, Aug 11, 2001
An introduction to the two conventions that occurred in Philadelphia over the last week. One, the American Correctional Association's (http://www.corrections.com/aca), consisted of representatives from America's prison industry and corrections programs. The other, a counter-convention organized by the Coalition Against the American Correctional Association ( http://www.stoptheaca.org), addressed the prison-industrial complex and issues surrounding America's skyrocketing prison population.
-- STOP THE ACA COALITION MAKES DEMANDS ON THE ACA
By the Coalition Against the American Correctional Association, 12:17pm, Thu, Aug 16, 2001
"It is unfortunate that the ACA has been able to manipulate the press into believing misrepresentations of the way their organization operates. The ACA should and will be held accountable for their actions in regard to the gross human rights abuses occurring in prisons that they have accredited. They must also accept the fact that their annual trade show facilitates torture and murder, thinly hidden behind a veneer of propaganda that obviously diverts attention to empty rhetoric and away from their blood stained hands . . . ."
2. BACKGROUND ON AMERICA'S PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX -- PRISONS OF PROFIT: TURNING A BUCK ON AMERICA'S INCARCERATION FRENZY
By Holly Johnson, Philadelphia IMC, 10:10pm, Sat, Aug 11, 2001
"The American Correctional Association has no qualms about defining itself as a businessman's dream: an organization whose main goal is to turn a profit for its members. But unlike most capitalist corporations, the vendors who will arrive this week to hawk their wares are making money off of people who are kept behind bars..."
-- GEOV PARRISH ON ACA PROTESTS, HEMPFEST
By Geov Parrish (posted by Christopher Scheer), 5:29pm, Fri, Aug 10, 2001
Geov Parrish's August 10 column on workingforchange.com highlights the fundamental differences between local protests taking place simultaneously against both the prison industrial complex and the Drug War, versus the ongoing string of globalization summit protests that don't resonate as clearly with regular Americans.
-- THE PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX AND THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
By Eve Goldberg and Linda Evans, 5:31am, Tue Aug 14, '01
This essay from the Prison Activist Resource Center provides background on America's prison-industrial complex and its relationship to economic globalization. "Over 1.8 million people are currently behind bars in the United States. This represents the highest per capita incarceration rate in the history of the world. In 1995 alone, 150 new U.S. prisons were built and filled. This monumental commitment to lock up a sizeable percentage of the population is an integral part of the globalization of capital . . . ."
-- THE PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: CRISES AND CONTROL
by Christian Parenti 5:13am Tue Aug 14 '01
"So what is driving the lockdown? At the heart of the matter lies a basic contradiction: capitalism needs and creates poverty, intentionally through policy and organically through economic crisis . . . ."
3. AMERICA'S PRISON POPULATION GROWS EXPONENTIALLY
-- THE RACE TO INCARCERATE: 2,000,000 AND GROWING
by Giles Larsen and Andy Jones, Utah IMC, Fri, Aug 29, 2001
"During the '90s, the United States surpassed South Africa, Russia, and China in the proportion of its citizens locked up behind bars. The race to incarcerate has been fueled by a 'rage to punish,' but in the process, the US has inadvertently recreated all the vestiges of a forgotten horror - slavery. Minorities form the majority demographic within the prison system, where they are stripped of their humanity, and exploited for economic gain by the private sector . . . ."
-- US CORRECTIONS SYSTEM CONTINUES TO BLOAT WITH 458,000 DRUG WAR PRISONERS
by www.drcnet.org 6:38am Tue Aug 14 '01
"U.S. Justice Bureau statistics indicate that there are approximately 6.3 million Americans who are either in prison, on parole or on probation, including 458,000 prisoners of the "drug war."
-- NEW REPORT ON RACIAL & ETHNIC DISPARITIES WITHIN PENNSYLVANIA PRISON POPULATION
By Michelle, SF IMC, 6:21pm, Sun Aug 12, 2001
At 11:00 am on Sunday, a press conference was held next to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA to announce the release of "Color of the Keystone: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Use of Incarceration in Pennsylvania." The new report, jointly produced by National Center on Institutions and Alternatives and Justice Policy Institute, presents dramatic statistics confirming the racism of Pennylvania's (in)justice system. "In 2000, Pennsylvania led all jurisdictions (including all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the federal prison system) in having the greatest disparity between the White and non-White incarceration rate . . . ."
-- CLICKABLE CHARTS FOR THE HUGE U.S. PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX AND THE DRUG WAR WORLDWIDE,
by Incarceration Nation, 4;45am, Weds, Aug 15, 2001
Detailed statistical information demonstrating U.S. and world incarceration rates, including information on racial disparities among America's prisoners and information about the rate of drug-related convictions.
4. THE CORPORATIZATION OF AMERICA'S PRISONS
Activists in Philadelphia protesting the American Correctional Association's policies this past week placed particular emphasis on the corporations that are members of the ACA and their increasing role in the American penal system. Over the 1990s private corporations won contracts for everything from prison-building to prison health care, sometimes even using prisoners as laborers at ludicrously low wages. Of particular interest was the ACA's trade show, to which many corporations came touting their products meant to control prisoners more efficiently - mobile guard towers, impenetrable cells, newly invented stun devices, etc. Around the globe, World Bank/International Monetary Fund "structural adjustment programs"" insist governments privatize certain industries and institutions, including many upon which society relies for elements of the people's well-being. Demonstrators in Philadelphia equated global structural adjustment with America's own moves to sell its own social institutions, such as the prison system, to the highest corporate bidder.
-- 100% TAKEDOWN POWER: ADVANCED TASER M-SERIES
By Philadelphia IMC, 3:22pm, Weds, Aug 15, 2001
Promotional videos for the Advanced Taser M-Series, distributed at the ACA trade show. "'It just takes your legs out. It's like a jackhammer going Kaboom, Kaboom, Kaboom!' -- Sgt. Burt Robinson, Chandler Police SWAT Team, AZ . . . ."
By nessie, 5:04am, Fri, Jun 15, 2001
An expose of the Wackenhut corporation, including information about its increasing relationship with the American prison system. "Wackenhut operates 10 detention or correctional facilities in seven states that house 3,456 inmates. It's first facility, a federal Immigration and Naturalization Services detention center, opened in 1987. Within two years the correctional business generated about $25 million of Wackenhut's $462 million in 1989 revenue . . . ."
-- ABBOT DROPS OUT OF ACA TRADE SHOW
Video, By Mike Rosenburg, Philadelphia IMC, 11:08pm, Sun, Aug 12, 2001
http://www.phillyimc.org/article.pl?sid=01/08/13/0520252&mode=thread Video of Jeff Garis of the Pennsylvania Abolitionists describing the planned action against Abbot Pharmaceuticals to protest its production of drugs used in lethal injections, as well as Abbot's withdrawal from the trade show.
(Audio of Jeff Garis, http://www.phillyimc.org/article.pl?sid=01/08/13/038238&mode=thread)
4. ACTIONS AND EVENTS IN PHILADELPHIA
-- MONDAY: MARCH FOR JUSTICE
By CACAA Media, 10:47pm, Sun, Aug 12, 2001
Several hundred marched through the streets of Philadelphia on Monday, August 13, stopping in front of key Philadelphia criminal justice locations such as the federal detention center, where prisoners waved towels inside their windows to express support, and the office of District Attorney Lynn Abraham, nicknamed "America's Deadliest DA" because of her propensity to call for the death penalty more than any other district attorney.
(photos by San Francisco IMCer: http://www.phillyimc.org/article.pl?sid=01/08/14/2317254)
-- TUESDAY: ABOLITIONISTS SPEAK AGAINST DEATH PENALTY
By Miranda Kennedy, Free Speech Radio News, 2:14pm, Weds, Aug 15, 2001
The Pennsylvania Abolitionists Against the Death Penalty rallied near City Hall on Tuesday morning, August 14. This report for Free Speech Radio News focuses on the death penalty and its relationship to the growing prison industry.
(Also, an interview with Amy Dalton of the Pennsylvania Abolitionists Against the Death Penalty by WBIX - WBAI in Exile: http://www.phillyimc.org/article.pl?sid=01/08/18/216231&mode=thread)
-- WEDNESDAY: ACT-UP DEMANDS BETTER PRISON HEALTH CARE
by Philadelphia IMC
On Wednesday morning, August 15, Philadelphia ACT-UP led a diverse and energetic march of several hundred from the Convention Center, where the ACA was meeting, into City Hall to the office of Mayor John Street. Marchers demanded the Mayor end the city's $25 million contract with Prison Health Services, a private corporation that provides health care to inmates in the city's prisons. Activists say PHS fails to provide inmates with adequate care, especially to those with HIV-AIDS.
-- THURSDAY: ACTIVISTS PRESENT DEMANDS AT ACA CLOSING PLENARY
By CACAA Media, 4:10 pm, Thurs, Aug 16, 2001
http://www.phillyimc.org/article.pl?sid=01/08/16/2010216&mode=thread Eyewitness account by Steve Taylor, Philadelphia IMC
Anti-prison activists read their demands at the closing plenary of the ACA convention at the Center City Marriot on Thursday, August 17, drowning out the ACA's own speakers. Four anti-prison activists were arrested, as were eight others, including the IMC reporters. All face disorderly conduct, conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct and defiant trespassing misdemeanor charges.
FRIDAY: RALLY TO SUPPORT MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
On Friday, August 17, over a thousand supporters of death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal rallied before Philadelphia's City Hall, as inside a Philadelphia courtroom lawyers tried to convince Judge Pamela Dembe to award him a new trial. At greatest issue was the confession of Arnold Beverly, who purports to have been the real killer of Officer Daniel Faulkner, the policeman for whose death Mumia has been blamed. Judge Dembe gave Abu-Jamal's three weeks to submit an argument as to why Abu-Jamal's request for a new trial is still timely, giving the prosecution two weeks afterward to respond.
THOUSANDS GATHER TO SUPPORT MUMIA ABU-JAMAL AT PIVOTAL HEARING
By Amy L. Dalton, 11:12am, Fri, Aug 17, 2001
http://www.phillyimc.org/article.pl?sid=01/08/17/1512244&mode=thread (includes extensive links to background about Mumia Abu-Jamal's case)
WBIX SPECIAL REPORT ON MUMIA ABU-JAMAL, ONE OF MANY USA POLITICAL PRISONERS
By WBIX.ORG, 5:34pm, Sat, Aug 18, 2001
FREESPEECH RADIO NEWS ON MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
By FreeSpeech Radio News, 2:28, Fri, Aug 17, 2001
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT ON MUMIA ABU-JAMAL'S CASE, IN FAVOR OF GRANTING HIM A NEW TRIAL
5. ALTERNATIVES TO PRISONS
Often both those who defend America's prison system and those who struggle to reform it do so with the belief that our current system of crime and punishment is, at its core, society's only option for addressing harmful behavior. Even the most strident reformers often try to make the current system "work better" rather than replace it with a fundamentally different way to conceive justice. Are there alternatives to the current structure of the American penal system? Would not a radical redistribution of wealth result in a drastic reduction of crime that rises from poverty? Would not a thorough restructuring of society to promote fundamental human rights provide individuals who currently find refuge in crime with impetus to help society rather than harm it? Some who are interested in fundamentally re-envisioning the justice system have embraced initiatives that, while new to most European-descended Americans, are based upon ancient systems of tribal and community justice. While diverging from one another in practice and effect, "new" forms of criminal intervention share a drastically different relationship between individual and community than our current punitive system. Among a wide variety of experiments, programs like those that practice "restorative justice," "victim-offender mediation," "victim-offender reconciliation" and "peer justice" at least afford some trust that perpetrator and the victim of a crime will be able to find justice within the context of their community.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PROJECT
"When we place the emphasis on the violation of law instead of the violation of the human relationship, we hide or mask the real violation. It is possible for an offender to be tried and sentenced for an offense, more or less serious, and never be fully aware of the human consequences or impact of the violation. . . . The real problem, the violation of the human relationship, is ignored and therefore the what we are most concerned about has been hidden. In fact, when we focus primarily on the violation of the law, we inadvertently encourage denial of responsibility . . . ."
VICTIM OFFENDER MEDIATION
"Victim Offender Mediation is a face-to-face meeting, in the presence of a trained mediator, between the victim of a crime and the person who committed that crime . . . . In the meeting, the offender and the victim can talk to each other about what happened, the effects of the crime on their lives, and their feelings about it. They may choose to create a mutually agreeable plan to repair any damages that occurred as a result of the crime . . . ."
VICTIM OFFENDER RECONCILIATION
"Victim-Offender Mediation Programs have been mediating meaningful justice between crime victims and offenders for over twenty years; there are now over 300 such programs in the U.S. and Canada and about 700 in England, Germany, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. Remarkably consistent statistics from a cross-section of the North American programs show that about two-thirds of the cases referred resulted in a face-to-face mediation meeting; over 95% of the cases mediated resulted in a written restitution agreement; over 90% of those restitution agreements are completed within one year. . . ."
-- HISTORY OF TRIBAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
"Since time immemorial, Native American and Alaska Native tribes have been keeping the peace and administering justice in their homelands through the use of their own ancient laws, traditions and customs . . . . Traditionally, most tribes resolved disputes and addressed criminal activity by consensus, not by an adversarial system, as do Anglo-Americans . . . ."
PEER JUSTICE AND YOUTH EMPOWERMENT: AN IMPLEMENTATION GUIDE FOR TEEN COURT PROGRAMS
This guide describes a peer court system that enables young people who harm others to go in front of a true jury of their age-mates, and therefore have to explain their actions to their community rather than to a faceless criminal justice system.
ANARCHIST FAQ, ANSWERING THE QUESTION, "WHAT ABOUT CRIME?"
"Anarchists argue that the root cause for crime is not some perversity of human nature or 'original sin,' but is due to the type of society by which people are molded. For example, anarchists point out that by eliminating private property, crime could be reduced by about 90 percent, since about 90 percent of crime is currently motivated by evils stemming from private property such as poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and alienation . . . . 'Crime,' therefore, cannot be divorced from the society within which it occurs . . . ."
6. PHILADELPHIA IMC AUDIO AND VIDEO COVERAGE
Philadelphia's Radio Volta (http://www.radiovolta.org) produced 24-hour coverage of the American Correctional Association and its critics through out the week.
RADIO VOLTA'S DAILY 5 MINUTE WRAP-UPS: (MP3s)
a10 (25 minutes) | a11 | a12 | a13 | a14 | a15 | a16 | a17
? ACA PRESIDENT BETTY GREEN (by Scott)
ELIZABETH ALEXANDER, DIRECTOR OF THE ACLU'S NATIONAL PRISON PROJECT, speaking about her experience with the ACA in legal proceedings against prisons (by Nick Cooper, Houson IMC)
RUSSEL SHOATZ III, JEFF GARIS (of the PA Abolitionists), DIANE FORBACHER (of Drug Policy Reform), DANIELLE (from CA-ACA Legal) and SAMANTHA (from CA-ACA Props). (audio, by Ryan, Philadelphia IMC, Radio Volta)
JASON ZEIDENBERG (sp.?) OF THE JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE (audio, by Nick Cooper, Houston IMC)
-- MORE PHILLY IMC AUDIO FROM THIS WEEK
WAYNE JACOBS, PRESIDENT OF X-OFFENDERS FOR COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT, discussing the abandonment of rehabilitation by modern prisons (by Hannah Sassaman and Josh Marcus, Philadelphia IMC)
DAN CAHILL of the Prison Activist Network countering the ACA's claim of no culpability concerning the prison-industrial complex (by Mike Rosenberg, Philadelphia IMC)
BRONWYN LEPORE addressing the prison-industrial complex's presence in Philadelphia (by Mike Rosenberg, Philadelphia IMC)
MARIO HARDY discusses young urban political analysis and how America saps its energy (by Mike Rosenberg, Philadelphia IMC)
WILLIAM NIEVES on the death penalty (by Mike Rosenberg, Philadelphia IMC)
MORE PHILLY IMC VIDEO FROM THIS WEEK
*** FOR COMPREHENSIVE AUDIO COVERAGE OF PRISON-INDUSTRIAL ISSUES RAISED LAST WEEK IN PHILADELPHIA SEE:
WBAI IN EXILE: http://www.wbix.org
FREESPEECH RADIO NEWS: http://www.savepacifica.net/strike/news/
D. ADDITIONAL IMC COVERAGE.
For ongoing coverage of world events see IMC global, http://www.indymedia.org, with links to over 50 IMC local websites. Also see:
http://radio.indymedia.org IMC Print
(weekly news summaries in distributable newsletter/flier format)
Recent IMC NEWS BLASTs
Saturday, August 11 -- VIOLENCE AND/OR NONVIOLENCE
Sunday, 29 July 2001--GENOA LEGAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES:
Monday, 23 July 2001--GENOA G8: WHAT HAPPENED?:
(English, Italian versions)
Future IMC NEWS BLASTs
We are surveying Indymedia newswires for strategy posts for two future NEWS BLAST features on these topics:
· MEDIA CRITICISM AND ACTIVISM
· GLOBAL JUSTICE STRATEGY: CHALLENGE THE CORRUPTION, BUILD NEW MODELS
As previously, future blasts also will continue to report on specific social movement mobilizations.
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