• By Lt. Tim McMillan

The Modern American Slave Trade

The Police get blamed for a lot of wrongs. However, we are only one of three components in the criminal justice system. Often we take the burden for the rampant immorality that can exist in the judicial and correctional side of the equation. The number of people incarcerated in America has risen 10x times in the last fifty years. Currently, 2.2 million people are imprisoned in the United States.That is more than the population of sixteen of the fifty states in America. It is also 25% of the entire world’s prison population. We cannot even pretend that mass incarceration reduces the crime rate. A study in 2015 by NYU of law demonstrated that the effect of reducing crime by mass incarceration in American had been effectively ZERO. The privatization of prisons has made incarceration of people profitable. The Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) alone made 1.7 billion dollars running private prisons in America last year. Currently, 1/5 of federal prisoners are held in private for-profit prison. When you make incarceration profitable, what the hell is the incentive to ever truly reduce crime! Just look at what these profiteers say, “You just sell Prisons like you were selling cars, or real estate, or hamburgers.”- Tom Beasley, Co-founder of CCA, 1988. Private corporations are farming out prison labor from private prisons to make goods and services The following companies have used prison labor in the past or the present: McDonalds, Wal-Mart, Victoria’s Secret, Aramark, AT&T, BP oil, Amway, Sears, Mary Kay, Quaker Oats, Microsoft, Pfizer, Saks Fifth Avenue, JCPenney, Macy’s Starbucks, Nike, Nintendo, Honda, Wendy’s, Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, Motorola, Compaq, IBM, Boeing, Texas Instruments, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, just to name a FEW. Don’t get me wrong; inmates are paid for their work. HOWEVER, the average MAXIMUM wage for prisoners is $4.73 A DAY. At that rate, it would take an inmate 24.5 years to earn the annual median personal income for individuals living in the U.S. Provided, of course, they had at least two days off a week from work. If they worked seven days a week, they could drop that number down to 17.5 years. Private prisons over impose infractions on inmates at twice the number of government-run prisons. Ultimately, this denies prisoners parole and keeps them incarcerated. Honestly, why wouldn’t they do this? They can employ a labor force for 4.1% of the annual labor cost of the average non-incarcerated American. Countering anyone’s arguments against this not being a wickedly immoral and corrupt system: 1. Well if they hadn’t committed a crime then they wouldn’t have to be effectively slaves. •People who aren’t incarcerated are still being negatively affected. What pool of individuals do you think inmate labor is taking jobs from? That’s right, average everyday non-incarcerated Americans. It isn’t illegal immigrants or outsourcing of work to foreign companies that is dramatically affecting American joblessness. It’s actually behind razor wire right here at home. 2. Prisons can’t afford to pay inmates more than $4.23 a day because they already pay to house and feed them. • Private correctional facilities were a $4.8 billion industry in 2015, of which, $629 million was profit. That is 20% of the net profit made by Wal-Mart, or 48% of McDonald's in the same year. Additionally, private prisons are ultimately contracted by the government, so they are funded by tax money. Lastly, private prisons haven’t cost the tax payer any less than government-run prisons. So we all pay the same as taxpayers, and it is only the private prison that is making profits. 3. Well, if you make prison unpleasant like de facto slave labor, maybe someone will think twice about committing a crime. • The previously discussed NYU study demonstrated that mass incarcerations had no effect on crime from 2000 to 2013. Moreover, incarceration and crime rates are not dependent variables. Since 1991, violent crime has dropped 50%, property crimes by 43%. However, imprisonment increased 61%. In essence, fewer crimes are being committed, yet more people are going to prison. 4. It’s not fair for an inmate to be paid the same amount as someone who is not incarcerated. • Agreed. End privatization of prisons and increase the non-incarcerated labor force, thereby potentially affording more people the opportunity to make a living and not have to resort to crime. 5. The inmates probably enjoy having something to do while in prison. • Oh yeah? Sure I imagine the average inmate is just whistling sunshine while they sew a pair of women’s lace panties for Victoria’s Secret every day. They revel with delight as they farm Idaho potatoes, which adequately prepares them to fill exactly zero lawful employment opportunities when they get out since those jobs will be occupied by their still imprisoned counterparts. So why isn’t it that some of you are reading this and didn’t know this was going on? Well, maybe that’s because 37% of the prison inmate population are African American, a demographic that represents only 13% of the total American population. Or maybe it’s because 64% of the total prison population is made up of people who have a mental illness, while only 18.2% of the American adult population suffers from some mental illness as a whole. You aren’t going to target the majority, because that might end the entire scheme. Regardless, of your political allegiance, race, ethnicity, or cultural background, we all should demand from our political leaders to end this practice of prison profiteering. It is immoral, it is not effective in reducing crime, and it negatively affects the American economy. We all should care!

Tim McMillan is a retired police lieutenant and investigative intelligence analyst; and holds BA's in mathematics and cognitive psychology. Primarily, focusing on the Defense and Intelligence Communities, he now uses his unique background, coupled with a willingness to examine any mystery, to deliver groundbreaking investigative reporting. Tim is a contributor for The War Zone, Vice, and Popular Mechanics

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© Lieutenant Tim McMillan All Rights Reserved by The Raziel Group LLC