Cuentame Bringing The Fire: Taking On The Prison-Industrial Complex

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Cuentame's latest video is power. It's about time that someone in the pro-migrant movement throw a punch right at the nose of the prison-industrial complex. Stand with Cuentame's Immigrants For Sale campaign if you haven't done so yet.

The whole idea of an "industrial complex" is a difficult one to grasp, but an important one in U.S. democracy as it represents a wholesale corruption of the system. I know of three "industrial complexes" that affect my life, the military-industrial complex (the original), the prison-industrial complex, and the non-profit-industrial complex. Each has its own flavor, which I won't describe here, but Iist them all together to make the point that they describe similar phenomena. The phenomena becomes clear when President Dwight D. Eisenhower's original phrase is used, the "military-industrial-congressional complex."
Basically an "industrial complex" crops up whenever private entities which are paid by the government perpetuate themselves by making it almost impossible for individual legislators to vote against them, regardless of the interests of the people. With the prison-industrial complex, for example, private prison companies like the Corrections Corporation of America, are paid according to how many people they incarcerate. Legislators win by doing this because they simultaneously bring jobs, disenfranchised votes, and the appearance of being tough on crime to their districts.

As the private prisons get bigger they gain more lobbying power and are able to corrupt more legislators into incarcerating more people. What results is the U.S. having the highest rate of incarceration in the world. I want to say that the entire idea of a private prison company where the incentive is to imprison more people shouldn't exist, but a part of me wonders what would happen if private prison companies were paid based on their ability to rehabilitate the people they incarcerate. I'm straying far away from the video, though.

Economic times are tough, and federal, state, and local governments don't have as much money for prisons, anymore. Fortunately for private prison corporations, while budgets are being slashed elsewhere, immigration enforcement budgets are going up. That's why migrants have become the new targets, or growth areas, or private prison corporations like the Corrections Corporation of America.

The best part of pro-migrant organizations taking on the prison-industrial complex is that there's a real opportunity to build bridges with the African-American community, which is disproportionately affected by the prison-industrial complex. I don't know what the likelyhood of the CCA paying Pedro back is, but it's time to start taking down these private prisons one at a time.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on June 21, 2011 6:49 AM.

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