What can social justice movements do to resist and, ultimately, topple a state that is built on mass incarceration? The author, a political prisoner, says " at this moment it seems very possible for social movements to succeed in reducing prison populations. But any reductions under the present policy would only postpone the next incarceration binge to some more cost-efficient time."
Political Prisoners, Mass Incarceration and What's Possible for Social Movements
by Sundiata Acoli
This article previously appeared on the website dedicated to political prisoner/prisoner of war Sundiata Acoli. It was written to accompany Dan Berger, author, anarchist and college professor on his January, 2013 book tour thru Germany. Dan is author of "Outlaws in America: The Weather Underground Organization" and is the editor of "The Hidden '70s."
" Every slave confined on a plantation or runaway detained in jail was a POW."
America has millions of prisoners locked away in its dungeons, many for 20, 30 and 40 years or more -- yet astonishingly, it claims there are no Political Prisoners or Political Prisoners of War (PP/POWs) in its prisons -- and that it has no PPs.
That makes the u.s. the only country in the world that has MASS INCARCERATION, has more prisoners, period, than any other country -- and has prisoners locked in secret CIA prisons around the world, but no PPs.
Since it has no PPs, it obviously has no masses of poor, hungry, homeless or unemployed people, nor does it have hordes of oppressed nationalities and lower classes herded into reservations, barrios, ghettoes, 'hoods, trailer parks and housing projects who are daily subjected to various forms of discrimination, racial profiling and police brutality, murder and mass imprisonment.
If the u.s. has no PPs, then apparently there's no MASS INJUSTICE in america because that's where MASS INCARCERATION and PPs come from. MASS INCARCERATION is the barometer, the main indicator of MASS INJUSTICE in society.
PPs are those in every land and throughout every era, who are imprisoned for fighting INJUSTICE in their societies and the same holds true today for the relationship between MASS INJUSTICE, MASS INCARCERATION and PPs in u.s. society -- and who must be freed! Not only PPs -- but ALL those imprisoned by unjust policies.
" MASS INCARCERATION is the barometer, the main indicator of MASS INJUSTICE in society."
The latest 30-year prison-building/mass-incarceration spree has left the land dotted with thousands of new prisons overfilled with millions of prisoners -- all of which has convinced state legislators that they cannot incarcerate their way out of the defects in this political system and that the current budget-busting levels of incarceration are too costly to sustain any longer.
So at this moment it seems very possible for social movements to succeed in reducing prison populations. But any reductions under the present policy would only postpone the next INCARCERATION binge to some more cost-efficient time in the future although MASS INCARCERATION itself is the problem! Not crime, not drugs nor violent offenders per se , but MASS INCARCERATION itself is the problem . Crime rates, for serious crime, were as low in 2011 as they were in 1964. Rates for violent and nonviolent crimes have been declining for at least five years but the national prison population is functionally the same size. So it's clear that incarceration rates are "policy" driven, not "crime" driven. And history shows that america's incarceration is driven primarily by "unjust racial/class" policies.
The 1st instance of america's unjust racial policy occurred at inception with its incipient genocide against Indigenous american, theft of their land and Chattel Slavery -- unjust on its face -- became racially so when it switched to enslaving Blacks ONLY. Confinement of Indigenous americans on reservations, their captured Chiefs and Braves in military prisons and the enslaved Afrikans on plantations for 300 years was the first MASS INCARCERATION committed by the colonial nation. Every slave confined on a plantation or runaway detained in jail was a POW. So was every Indigenous american forced onto reservations or detained in military prisons -- as was any other person detained for resisting american genocide, enslavement, rape and robbery of their lands and nations.
" The current budget-busting levels of incarceration are too costly to sustain any longer."