By Frank O’Brien,
Troy, New York, USA.
With the outrageously racist Ferguson situation, and shooting, and the countless other racist behaviors of certain police forces around the country, it is very interesting that even with Obama being in high office, that such white supremacy still reigns supreme in the land of supposedly the free and brave.
Some statistics are called for to demonstrate the real America, that one being the one represented behind prison bars. 2.2 million convicts languish behind prison bars, while 7 million are in jails or on probation or parole.
America has only 5% of the world’s population, yet has 25% of the world’s prison population, meaning 1 out of 100 people are incarcerated. Corporate America makes billions off of prison labor, inmates getting paid only a measly few cents per hour, making it tantamount to a form of slave labor. Even though it is admitted that there is no humane way to execute a prisoner, America continues employing the death penalty.
Sickeningly ironic is the fact that a significant number of death penalty cases have been exonerated in courts, after the sentence has been carried out, leaving a number of innocent inmates having been killed anyway despite their innocence. Prisons and jails are extremely overcrowded, with prisoners being treated worse than animals, and are routinely beaten and sexually abused by prison guards.
Even with large budgets, prisons and jails feed their inmates the most minimum of nutrition, leaving many under fed. The estimate is that America has around 200 political prisoners, from old Black Panther party members, to those like Bradley Manning, who dared speak out against the American government’s illegal behavior abroad. Even though crime statistically has gone down, prison populations have skyrocketed from non-violent drug offenses, since the War on Drugs was declared in the early 1970s. Institutionalized racism is rampant, with blacks representing only 12.2% of the nation’s population, yet representing 39% of the prison population, and Latinos being only 16.4% of the overall population, and representing 23% of the prison population, whereas whites represent about 67% of the overall population, but are only 31% of the prison population.
The facts are irrefutable that if you are other than white, you have several more times the likelihood that you’ll be sent to prison or jail. Most are poor, and a whopping 90% of court cases never get heard by a jury, since prosecutors and police coerce and threaten defendants into taking plea deals, saying that they otherwise face bigger sentences if they don’t plead.
Court appointed lawyers can’t offer the same protections as privately hired lawyers, so the poor wind up not getting the proper representation as those who have money to hire outside counsel. Over 50% in prison are non-violent drug offenders, and there since poor neighborhoods are targeted more by police, than the richer neighborhoods, where drug use is just as prevalent. Solitary confinement, euphemistically called behavior management units, is widely used, some prisoners spending years isolated away from the general population.
Perfectly sound of mind inmates wind up with severe mental illness from this torturous means of keeping prisoners in check. Because of the ‘institutionalization’ of mental hospitals in the 1970s, an increasing number of the mentally ill wind up in the criminal justice system, instead of being sent to get proper mental health care. There are even a significant number of the mentally ill, and retarded that wind up on death row, even though any psychiatrist worth their reputation would place these inmates in prison for life, or in a institute for the criminally insane.
Having a 2 year degree in criminal justice, I can tell you that I was taught back in the mid to late 1980s. We had some honest professors, who taught us that justice involved a lot of factors, including race, political pressure from the media, and groups of outside people, and much more. Justice we were taught wasn’t blind as we are taught in high school, and grade school, but rather depended upon the literal mix of a whole lot of factors and pressures. For instance, you’d think a black cop would be more sensitive to fellow blacks, but instead they tend to be tougher and harder on blacks so as to blend in with their white counterparts. There tends to be a lot of drug arrests since money is poured into this kind of enforcement by states and the Fed, making it a lucrative money making thing for cops.
Combine this with some being black who are breaking these draconian drug laws, and the still existent racism in the system, and you get an outrageous amount of discriminatory behavior by cops, prosecutors and judges. Sad to say, but the extra-judicial murders of blacks that have garnered news headlines, are just the tip of a racist iceberg. You don’t need a KKK in order to have the white supremacy that goes on in the criminal justice system, and society at large. Even with forced school integration back in the 1970s, our neighborhoods are still divided amongst poor black and Latino, and those that are upper middle class and rich. Obama for all of his talk about change and hope, couldn’t bring it, or didn’t bring it to the poor black and Latno folks, who are stuck in ever increasing poverty, pushed into ghettos like the Jews during the Third Reich. The corporate media are more a reflection of the upper white class, with a few token black and Latino people who don’t rock the boat too much. For there to be real change and hope, and less discrimination, the poor, both black, white, and Latino need to rise up more, and taking over the institutions of power in America, and putting sociopathic corporations and billionaires in their place.