By: David A. Franklin, Jr.

The system has spawned and nurtured the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC)

  The facts speak for themselves:
  1.  In past 2 decades, States spending on prisons has risen an average of 6 times of spending on higher education.  A
       sample state spending per inmate per year reads like this - California $50,000, Michigan $34,000 and New York 
“Why is this happening? Prisons are a big business. Most are privately run. They have powerful lobbyists and they have bought most state politicians.” — Fareed Zakaria, CNN, March 30, 2012

  2. Between 1970 and 2005, U.S. prison population increased by 700%. Currently it is estimated that 1 of every 182 
      Americans is incarcerated in a Federal or State Prison. Between 1990 and 2009 Public High School Graduation 
      rate has only increased by 2.9% to a high of 76.6%. The Condition of Education 2012, National Center for 
     Education Statistics State budgets have revealed that most states, despite spending more money overall on 
     education, are spending three to four times more per capita incarcerating prisoners than they are educating 
     students. Read more:

  3. In California, of the general fund, 11% goes to prisons and 7.5% goes to education. “Spending 45 percent more 
      on prisons than Universities is no way to proceed into the future” said Arnold Schwarzenegger former 
      governor of California

4.  America boasts to be the “freest country in the world” has incarcerated more of its citizens than the rest of the world 
     combined.  7.1 million to date (2012). The United States is ranked 37th in the world in education spending as a 
     percentage of gross domestic product.

5.  States project how many prison beds are needed it factors the number of kids who cannot read well in the 4th 
     grade. They build prisons relative to the projected graduation rate.

6.  Approximately 85% of juveniles are functionally literate and approximately 70% of prisoners exhibit the lowest level 
     of reading skills. The numbers of incarcerations continue to climb each year as more prisons are built in almost 
     every State.

The Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) is one of the monstrously negative effects of rapacious capitalism in the United States. Corporations and private individuals connive to maximize profits at the expense of human lives and human existence.  The wealthy individuals and corporations benefit from cheap labor provided by inmates of the country’s correctional institutions. 
More individuals and corporations than the general public know or believe are involved and benefit from prison industries and the cheap inmate labor.  As an example a number of the largest corporations in America use Fidelity Investments as the sole source of retirement investment for their employees. Fidelity is a funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who in turn is a big supporter of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Geo Group (Geo) who are both corporate sponsors of ALEC. 

What/Who is ALEC? 

“ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door” ALEC EXPOSED 
We must remember that among the group of corporations are global corporations who with state politicians rewrite the laws that govern your rights 
 McDonald’s contract with companies that use inmate labor to purchase their uniforms and some plastic utensils
K-Mart and J.C. Penny sell jeans made by inmates in the prisons in Tennessee
Services corporations such as banks, energy producers, oil, utilities, insurance companies, telecommunications, call centers many of whom not only fund ALEC with regard to prison labor and PIC, they  have foundations that contribute substantially to ALEC and have representation on ALEC’s Private Enterprise Board
The agricultural industry is not to be excluded. As a result of the tough immigration laws in the Western States the prison industries are vying to fill the void of the migrant workers.  Colorado for example is in partnership with its DOC to implement a program to use inmates on private farms.  All of the above except for the manipulative sell-out of the country to private and global corporations is acceptable on the surface BUT the Colorado experience breeds a situation worse than the illegal migrant worker scenario.  Corporate farm owners pay prisoners 60 cents per day (yes you read correctly).  While the prison guards who oversee the workers are paid handsomely and the corporations benefit big. This not only makes a  bad situation worse since it was believed that migrant workers take jobs from Americans but at this wage rate, employers will have no incentive to change from this source of labor.  This is modern day slavery! And who makes up most of the prison population?

-           Colorado sends female inmates to harvest onions, corn   
            and melons and Iowa is considering to do the same.

-          For more than 20 years, Arizona inmates are being used 
           to provide slave labor for private agriculture businesses. 

Is it plain the reason for not funding public school education - so as to produce fewer graduates. To supply the prison labor force that provides these corporations 60 cents per day inmate labor. The situation that is happening in Washington State is mirrored across the country.  To address the State’s deficit, the State has put the following cuts into play – notice the imbalance skewed against education:

-          $50 million from the Department of Corrections

-          $50 million from K-12 education including state funding to 
           keep class sizes small

-          $51 million from higher education 

-          $30 million from state-subsidized health insurance and 
           the elimination of non-emergency dental care for poor 

                  FROM SCHOOL TO PRISON


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