With all the media attention centered on racial issues in Ferguson, Baltimore, and the Confederate flag removal in South Carolina, another racial injustice is happening right in under our noses, yet is rarely noticed by the average American. In fact, this racial injustice has gone unnoticed for so long, people rarely (if ever) realize it even exists. This racial injustice has even been labeled a “holocaust in slow motion.” This injustice paradoxically is happening in The Department of Justice of all places. This holocaust is ruining countless lives, especially Black folks, and yet goes largely unnoticed. This contemporary holocaust is The War on Drugs. It’s a modern form of slavery designed to “re-enslave” minorities in a covert manner. Despite the fact that the US school textbooks have claimed slavery was forbidden and abolished after the Civil War, the US Constitution does allow for legal slavery. It’s all written in the 13th Amendment that people think completely outlaws slavery. Read the text of the 13th Amendment closely, it clearly allows for slavery.
By Michael Butler
Have we abolished, or as the page above states, does the the US Constitution “forbid” slavery in the United States? According to most history textbooks it has. Yet if we take a closer look, slavery is still allowed under the US Constitution. As an exception, yet slavery is allowed under that “exception.”
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, EXCEPT AS A PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME WHEREOF THE PARTY SHALL HAVE BEEN DULY CONVICTED, shall exist in the United states, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
So, in the above wording, slavery IS allowed in the US, as exception, but legal and allowed nonetheless. If a person is (duly) convicted of a crime, they can be forced to serve as a slave.
In 1978 and 1979, respectively, the prison population was actually declining. In California this was such a concern that the state prison officials were discussing consolidating prison space to save costs. However, the Prison Industries were also concerned. After all, they were worried about potentially losing cheap laborers. So, it’s not surprising then, that in 1980 a plan was devised to repopulate the prisons. A brochure was circulated to companies about how a new wave of crime was coming in the near future, and to get on board by investing in the sure-to-expand Prison Industries that would be a byproduct of this new wave of crime.
The Federal Prison Industries (FPI) was also concerned and took note of these “predictions.” After all, they had built a Prison cottage industry on the backs of their prisoners for years. FPI’s reasoning was that prisoners should work as “idle hands were the hands of the devil.” In other words, bored prisoners were more likely to become unruly and difficult to manage. At least in theory this was how it was supposed to work. FPI had already become a “for profit” entity as is evident in their 1974 report.
FPI was a for-profit organization and had even gained status as a CORPORATION.
The history of this progression from a program to keep prisoners busy to a national business is well-documented in Christian Parenti’s LOCKDOWN AMERICA: Police and Prisons in an Age of Crisis (PDF).
Let’s go back and trace the development of this phenomenon. In 1969, H.R. Haldeman, a prominent Nixon aide said:
During the Clinton presidency, a media firestorm was unleashed as focus on China’s abuse of it’s myriad of prisoners. Clinton had made Chinese prison labor a campaign issue and had even made a promise to address it if he was elected (promise #47). In fact, in the media Clinton condemned the Chinese Prison Industries because of their exploitation of prison labor. The reasoning was that the US would have a hard time competing with China if they were allowed to exploit prison labor (in what the Chinese call the Laogai). After some contentious political wrangling, President Clinton, who had threatened to revoke China’s most-favored trading status with the US, and even traveled to China to address this issue.
But rather than keep his campaign promise to crack down on China’s abuse, after the Chinese threatened to curtain trade with the US, President Clinton instead offered China PERMANENT most-favored-trading status. Furthermore, under the Clinton administration, drug arrests skyrocketed.
I realize that my critics will attempt to label me as “pro-crime.” I am not pro-crime, but instead I am a critic of the million of wasted tax-payer dollars propping up what I heard labeled as a “holocaust in slow motion.”
The images below are meant to illustrate what is happening as the War on Drugs continues.
The Black Panthers created a poster that purported to show how historically, profits were made on the backs of Blacks.
Emerge magazine (Black America’s Newsmagazine) had an issue that claimed “Crime Pays”- this time crime doesn’t pay for those who commit crimes, but rather pays those who exploit Black prisoners!
For most of Federal Prison Industries history, the products they produced were NOT allowed to compete on the open market. After all, prisoners were exempt from minimum wage laws and could be paid as low as 10-15-cents an hour. However, around 1997, when the profits began to accumulate, those running Prion Industries began to realize the potential profits that could be generated if the private sector could become involved. The government also realized the economic potential and lifted the ban on prison-made products being sold on the open market (like the Chinese).
Blacks are also more likely to not only be targeted as drug criminals, but are also more likely to be convicted. While non-Blacks are more likely to receive orders to attend some sort of diversion program.
Whenever I show the below image to students, they tend to stop the lecture, get visibly upset, and immediately want to challenge the article’s premise that more Whites use drugs than do Blacks.
So I stop the lecture and show them them data on DRUG CONVICTION RATES. rates break data down into comparable statistics. (e.g. rates per 100,000 etc).
These graphs usually quell the emotions and the lecture can continue unabated. Based on data such as these, and after critics pointed out that the sentencing laws were NOT fair to minorities, the United States Sentencing Commission suggested that prison sentences were out-of-control and should be made more equitable (fair).
Several publications have also addressed this issue.
Lucky, under the Obama Administration, this trend in arrests and incarceration seems to be reversing. Eric Holder (as Attorney General) has taken a stance on eliminating the minimum sentencing laws. We’ll see what happens as states are on a trend to legalize marijuana, once a major source of arrests for the Prison Industries.
pete padillla sociology