Policing and Punishment Continued
To keep these prisons full, the call for law and order must be repeated, loudly and often. To make sure that people are ready to be put into prisons more frequently, law and order must begin in elementary and high schools. Police officers are placed in schools and have the ability to issue tickets to children who misbehave. These tickets are supposed to be sealed and not used as the children turn 18, so as not influence judges if they commit small actions that violate the draconian laws of the state. Instead, they are used as a reason to inflict longer sentences on people who are first time offenders, as adults. This is known as the school to prison pipeline. It is particularly pronounced in inner city schools that have large minority populations.
Tickets, in schools, are often issued for things that would have gotten a talking to, or possibly detention in the past. They are issued for things that young people do as they learn about rules and try to understand what they mean. Let me use my own example. When I was in high school, it was prohibited to bring pop, or pop cans into school. Pop was seen as bad thing for young people to consume. We could drink off of school grounds during school hours, but had to dispose of the cans off of school grounds, as well, but there were very few places to dispose of these off of school property. As a prank, I started to put empty cans into my school locker, which was located directly outside of the principals office. I even asked others to contribute to the collection. I think there were over 200 cans in my locker.
One day, someone was seen putting a can in my locker. It wasn’t long and I had to sit down and talk with the principal. Nothing came from this, other than the discussion. Today, however, I could have gotten a ticket for brining contraband into the school. Either I, or my parents would have to pay. And it could be used against me if I were to be arrested for something petty, let’s say having a small amount of weed on me. It would be used in the context that I was a long term trouble maker that needed long term correction, thus the need to send me to prison. If I were a minority, this would be something that would be a much higher possibility.
What is more troubling about the for-profit prison system is what it is capable of becoming, or more importantly, has already become. These prisons have a secondary income, other than the money they get from the state for housing the people sent to them. Many also function as factories, making any number of goods, usually sold to state and federal governments, like body armour for soldiers. They can produce these for the same kind of money that factories in other counties that use, essentially, slave labour to produce. (See http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-prison-industry-in-the-united-states-big-business-or-a-new-form-of-slavery/8289. There are more like this to be found.) Since they function as a business, they are not held to the same human rights standards that government facilities are held to. They have the ability to skirt labour laws and human rights laws, much like other private companies do, like mercenaries do (also know as private security firms).
The question that comes to the forefront at this time is; what can happen with these prisons? What can happen in prisons that have little outside oversight? With the system that is in place, they can be easily converted to make munitions and other things necessary for a war, which some already do. They can do this very cheaply, since they don’t have to pay their workers much and they can be easily used to house exclusive minority groups. This has been done in the past and it shouldn’t be hard to imagine it happening again.
Next: Punishment and the Judicial System