The following is a History research paper I submitted in one the final semesters before my graduation in December of 2014. In addition to being an ordained minister I an American Chaplains Association certified Chaplain. My experience as a jail/prison Chaplain spans more than 10 years. As a member of Georgia's Prison Reentry Taskforce I am aware of the historical basis for extreme recidivism rates among African American offenders. I came to realize some time ago that this country has historically treated "racism" as a social issue when in reality racism is an historical problem. Understanding the history of racism as the force that enabled slavery to exist as an economic principle of free enterprise and to continue to evolve through the criminal justice system as the Prison Industrial Complex is key to understanding the depth and breadth of the problem and how best to eradicate it. Prison Chaplaincy has existed for more than 150 years and in that time its success rate in reducing recidivism has not been very successful. The reason prison minister has had no profound impact on recidivism is because the focus of classic prison ministry is wrong. More of my "position papers" that address the history of prisons as well as other important issue can be read at academia.edu . As the founder and CEO of Community Chaplaincy Outreach, Inc. we take our mandate from Matthew 25:31-46. This mandate is the same given to all believers that profess Jesus the Christ as their Lord and Savior. Christians often say insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results, yet they continue to do "church" the same way and somehow convince themselves that all is well.
The Prison Industrial Complex in the Evolution of Slavery
Professor C. Presley
December 16, 2013
“Many think we abolished slavery,
but it survived in grotesque forms.
Antebellum slavery first relapsed into
brutal convict leasing system and much
later into what we have today: state
slavery through mass incarceration.”
John Dewar Gleissner
Shortly after the first African slaves became a reality in the United States of America Euro-American stakeholders began working diligently to protect their human property through creating laws which became known as “slave codes”1 to their advantage in order to insure that Chattel Slavery would not only survive but would continually evolve as an industry, whether expressed or not. Slavery is alive and well. Crime is the connection that makes modern slavery legal but infinitely more profitable. Evidence will confirm that slavery is in a constant state of evolution and is inextricably linked to the ideology of Free Enterprise. The Free Market Economic System, the Private Enterprise model or Free Enterprise, it can be argued, is founded on the slave industry model which was founded on maximizing profits with least expenditures and overhead.
The 13th. Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865 which symbolically abolished slavery on paper but allowed a glowing exception encoded in these words: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction”. The implication of these words is clear, a duly convicted criminal forfeits all legal rights and is essentially a slave.2 Was this wording intentional? Did the framers of this grand document express it in such a way as to leave it open to diverse interpretations? Consensual racism was a part of the reality of most Euro-Americans of that era
and Abraham Lincoln was no exception.3 It is extremely interesting how religion, historically, is tied to human bondage. The Romans made Christianity the state religion, it can be argued because of its benefits in controlling political unrest in its sprawling empire. The teachings of Jesus on humility, obeying the authorities, giving unto Caesar what belonged to Caesar and loving one’s enemies was an asset to the Roman authorities plagued by constant revolts in its empire, especially from the Jews.4 The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was successful in part because of the missionary religious pretext of Christianity. Religion set the moral basis for the masses of everyday Europeans who were made to believe that they were “superior” and took upon themselves the burden of civilizing Africans.
The principal components of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade were free trade and Christianity. Slavery, it can be argued, was the world’s first free enterprise economic system. The supply and demand of European goods and African bodies was central to the partnership cultivated between European enslavers and African monarchs. Christianity was not only used to justify slavery but later it was used as a weapon of fear and intimidation in order to maintain control of the enslaved. Missionaries as well as slave owners relied heavily on special scriptures that referenced the relationship between master and slave.5 Today these two main components of previous chattel enslavement are assisted by a zero tolerance educational system, commonly called the School to Prison Pipeline, marketing, popular culture
especially Hip-Hop music and film, professional sports and a political machine that ties crime to business through special interests.
The world can thank the Quakers for popularizing the concept of “penitentiary”.6 The prison as a permanent place of punishment did not exist until the eighteenth century and when it did appear it was ensconced in as much Biblical morality as was slavery. Even now “new age” slavery has broken itself off and like the mythological creature the Hydra it has grown two distinct yet related heads commonly
referred to as “human trafficking”7 and the Prison Industrial Complex both of which are entrapped in religious morality, race, and ambiguous laws that make it hard to protect those who become victims or criminals.
Components of Modern Slavery
The components of modern slavery like its predecessor the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade serves a twofold purpose, to stimulate trade within the free market economic system and maximize profits at all costs for its investors. However, today’s slavery is infinitely more sinister and sophisticated than its predecessor. The first component is the public education system that operates within a modified “zero-tolerance” policies War on Drugs matrix or three strikes laws. Richard Milhous Nixon, the 37th. President of the United States took his cue of using crime as a political tool from a senator from Arizona named Barry Goldwater, the first to use “crime as a presidential campaign issue in 1964”.8 In a 1968 poll the mostly white respondents overwhelmingly rallied to Nixon’s war against “communists” and “Negroes who start riots”.9
In order to make the connection between the “political economy of crime” and its insidious relationship to the School-to-Prison-Pipeline, the Prison Industrial Complex and the constant evolution of slavery requires being able to see and understand that the foundation of slavery, free enterprise is still very much intact. Also, understanding the language of corporate violence, bi-partisanship, and deregulation in controlling supply and demand at all costs in order to maximize profits is essential. Evidence compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union, Dignity in Schools Campaign, UCLA Civil Rights Project, the Vera Institute of Justice and many others all attest to the relationship between failing schools, juvenile justice and “test based accountability” in the School to Prison Pipeline as being essential to a healthy private prison industry. Recently two former federal juvenile judges were
convicted for their part in a School-to-Prison-Pipeline scam that took place in Scranton, Pa. in 2009. These two criminals were found guilty of wire and income tax fraud “for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks” for sending juveniles to private prisons. In six years the two had sentenced more than 5,000 youth in this School-to- Prison Pipeline scheme.10 This type of business is happening all over the country in an effort to keep private youth detention centers , jails, and prisons at full capacity so that investors will receive the most for their investments. The paper trail begins in elementary schools and follows students throughout their lives. Minor infractions like talking or talking back to a teacher often leads to children being labeled as having behavior problems. The results are quite predictable, most children who are unfortunate to get tagged in school fail to graduate and end up slaves to the criminal justice system.
Dr. James Dobson founder of Focus on The Family, a non-profit multi-media family ministry and a trained clinical psychologist offered an analogy of children and stem cells in explaining the effects of a negative environment. Dr. Dobson said stem cells in the beginning are “undifferentiated” meaning they can develop into any cell depending on the environment “that it’s in”. Dr. Dobson said “children are stem cells for the culture”, a very profound analogy in light of evidence that sentencing juveniles especially first time offenders would most likely lead to an increase in “future criminal behavior rather than as a deterrent to crime or as a means to reform”.11 The problem with any idea of deterrent to crime, reform, or rehabilitation is no longer in the best interest of a for profit penal system. Actually, the word “rehabilitation” was dropped from California’s penal code mission statement in 1976 in order to reflect the move to harsher punishment. James Samuel Logan, author of Good Punishment? Christian Moral Practice and U.S. Imprisonment has identified four main components or reasons that interrelate to form the Prison Industrial Complex, they are; 1) 1970’s legislation that required long term mandatory long term sentencing in support of public policy, 2) the nationwide declaration of the War on Drugs
since the 80s, 3) social policy commitment to containing and controlling frustrated Blacks and other minorities in their struggles to achieve a better life and 4) the economic profit generated by increased imprisonment.12
The next and perhaps the most important component of the Prison Industrial Complex in modern slavery is marketing. It is through marketing and its related fields of mass communication and entertainment that all the other components are integrated. David Kupelian in The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption as Freedom exposes the fundamental intricacies of those components that are necessary for selling an undereducated public the reality they need to experience in order to be controlled. The dumbing-down of America has become a metaphor for a too trusting public still trapped in the nightmare of the American Dream. Author Joel Dyer in his monograph, The Perpetual Prisoner Machine: How America Profits from Crime presents a solid case against modern slavery in the form of controlled crime through the manipulations of the media, marketing and censorship.
Private Prisons are not new to America. The slave codes transitioned in the early 20th. century to include loitering and “vagrancy” laws. These laws were the forerunners to modern laws of racial profiling that support private prisons.13
One of the best examples to illustrate how the media works to invent realities is the Matrix, a 1999 science fiction film about a computer generated world of illusion where ignorance really is bliss except for a remnant of believers whose reality is the total opposite of what most others accept as normal and who therefore are resistant to this new form of enslavement, known as the “Matrix”. In explaining to Neo, the antagonist of the movie what the Matrix is, Morpheus, the leader of the resistance says – “… you are a slave. Like everyone else you were born into bondage, born inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste or touch, a prison for your mind”.14 It is in the minds of people that there is a war raging and this war is determined through the manipulation of media. William Hammett, former president of the conservative think tank The Manhattan Institute explained how “social policy on crime and welfare in the 1980s and 1990s was formulated”; he said, “Marketing is fun and we’re marketing ideas”. What Hammett was talking about was the black magic performed by a former Harvard management professor, James Q. Wilson in joining “justice policy” to supply and demand economics by cross-cutting and undermining the work of sociologists chasing the “root causes” of crime.15 Wilson’s approach of being hard on crime, advocating stricter sentences, instead of rehabilitation and training programs opened the door for him to hire himself out as a political consultant to both the political left and the right. Playing on the sensibilities of uneducated Euro-Americans politicians created “moral panics” through race baiting based on crime.16
In addressing how public opinion was manipulated by the media Maxwell E. McCombs, a former University of Texas communications professor noted that crime as an issue was dependent on whether or not the media would remain interested in “crime stories” since in reality crime had not risen in the late 80s and throughout the 90s in over 20 years. Do most teenagers like rap music? And even if they did what portion can be said to like “gangsta rap”, that hard core violent anti-everything genre that generates billions by direct marketing to mostly affluent Euro-American teens. Todays’ Euro-American youth have “co-opted inner-city black street style as authentic”. African American teens are revered by Euro-American youth because they are “strong, confrontational” and a little “scary” and Euro-American youth like that.17 Today’s television producers and assignment editors are now expected to be skilled in creating “crime waves”.18 Youth culture is essential to defining the parameters that link the School-to-Jail Pipeline to the ultimate cash cow, the Prison Industrial Complex.
Like the Pied Piper of yester-year’s fantasy today’s youth are being led by the sounds of BET and MTV, but it is not just about them being led but how they are being led. American youth culture, a $150 billion a year enterprise is controlled by five massive companies and four entertainment/music companies. Teens are the latest anthropological subjects that are studied like “laboratory rats” and instead of teens inventing their own types of rebellion as in years past today there is a whole cadre of marketing gurus that entice, and entrap with decadence disguised as “culture”. So, while the TV networks are cranking out violence in the form of entertainment followed by the nightly news with the latest body-bag count the “merchants of cool” are busy baiting traps for America’s teens.19
The title of William C. Rhoden book $40 Million Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete was inspired by a comment hurled at former New York Knicks player Larry Johnson: “Johnson, you’re nothing but a $40 million slave”.20 Rhoden discovered a very important “dynamic” a parallel between the slave plantation and ownership of modern slaves. All, until very recently “owners” of professional sports teams as well as the coaches and managing staff were “white”. Arguing the “plantation-to-plantation metaphor” in a later interview with the author the player had a hard time seeing how a man earning $12 million a year could be compared to a slave, if that was slavery he conceded he knew tons of people who wouldn’t mind being on that plantation.21 Herein lie the contradiction in perception of those faced with modern slavery; if they are unfree but successful then why does it matter? Back to the happy slave conundrum.
Rhoden relates how plantation owners in some areas instituted “harvest festivals” where slaves could compete not as a recreational outlet but as a controlled competition aimed to dull the “revolutionary inclination” of enslaved men. Frederick Douglass was not fooled by this tactic and
accurately identified those slave owner supported “holidays” as “safety valves and conductors” of pent up anger, aggression and hostility”.22
The sheer dominance of the African American presence though enslaved never ceased to amaze. President Theodore Roosevelt observed that, “the Negro, unlike so many of the inferior races, does not dwindle in the presence of the white man. He holds his own, indeed, under the condition of American slavery he increased faster than the whites threatening to supplant him”.23 It is because of this Black dominance even under the greatest social and economic pressure imaginable that Euro-American men fearful of losing control are mandated to preserve slavery in all its modern forms.
The sports industry a “major component” of the U.S. economy revolves around acquiring and owning under contract, mostly African American talent through a “sophisticated recruiting apparatus” known as the “Conveyor Belt”.24 Social integration opened a recruiting feeding frenzy for Euro-American colleges and universities who armed with unlimited resources quickly consolidated their economic control over this industry through political affiliations. Alumni associations are the links between economics and politics in this component of the Prison Industrial Complex. Rhoden explores the psychology of this conveyor belt recruiting system. The belt Rhoden says “ undermines character” but beyond that it dulls “any racial consciousness” while eliminating “communal instincts”.25 In describing this diabolical process the former head of the Black Coaches Association Rudy Washington juxtaposes the relationship between a drug dealer and a junkie.25
In 1991 a group of “blue chip” athletes challenged the Conveyer Belt recruitment process. Known to historians as the Fabulous Five they decided to resist being split up among competing universities and remain as a package. They failed in their undertaking of leveraging power as athletes but succeeded in bringing attention to slavery in sports.26
The politics underlying the establishment of the modern Prison Industrial Complex can be traced directly to Richard Milhous Nixon, the 37th. President of the United States and his War on Drugs. Taking his cue from Senator Barry Goldwater Richard Nixon infused Goldwater’s rhetoric with political value. Richard Nixon said that America had to face the fact “that the whole problem is really the blacks”. “The key”, he went on to say, “is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to”.27 Conservative politicians having already linked poverty to criminal activity presented Nixon with the perfect tool for connecting the dots that would empower his war on race, or his war against the African American community. In order to infuse his devious scheme with ultimate political power Nixon’s advisors suggested a strategy whereby they simply redefined “narcotics trafficking”, removed it from under the jurisdiction of the 1914 Harris Act which limited the policing of illegal drugs and placed it firmly under the jurisdiction of the Hobbs Interstate Commerce Act. This switch is how narcotic trafficking allowed unlimited federal prosecution against offenders in the War on Drugs. Nixon then announced to the nation the importance of mounting the “war on drugs” as a concern of national security and called for law makers to formulate appropriate national policies.28
Preemptive policing or policing in such a way as to reduce crime, even where a rise in crime cannot be proved is known as Zero Tolerance. Zero Tolerance or “quality of life “(QOL) policing was invented through a $30 million Ford Foundation start-up grant in 1970.29
The bridge to the Prison Industrial Complex the latest evolution in slavery is deeply embedded in the union between politics and business. Private Enterprise now controls politicians through campaign contributions, lobbying, advisory boards and other special interest groups either as direct investors or consultants.
The information clearinghouse In The Public Interest in its September 2013 report concluded that private prisons essentially hold states hostage to a “low-crime tax” and other “lock-up quotas” that guarantee that investors in private prisons are protected.30
In the book Prison and Slavery: A Surprising Comparison, author John Dewar Gleissner shares some startling statistical facts; although the U.S. is only 5% of the world’s population it houses more than 25% of the world’s prisoners, more than two million to date. The U.S. had more than 2.4 million slaves in 1840 and in 2009 more than 2.4 million prisoners “of all races” but mainly Blacks. Gleissner also raises the challenge that there were positive aspects of slavery; alcohol and drug addictions and crime were all but non-existent and although his reasons for citing such evidence is tenuous (the positive aspects of slavery or that some slaves were happy with their condition ) the evidence nonetheless alludes to another yet unexamined aspect of enslavement, that the later interaction of African Americans under and within the American system of government has had and continues to have a negative effect on African Americans no matter the educational or social status of individual achievement.
The system that Richard Nixon foresaw has had predetermined consequences for the Prison Industrial Complex and the continued enslavement of mostly African American men that continues to evolve according to market forces. The only solution to modern 13th. Amendment Enslavement is to re-write the law void of its loophole that makes a crime punishable by enslavement. To ensure that the law is not breached in any way a new mechanism of checks and balances must be created so that the public is assured access to any information that maybe used to protect investors in human trafficking or enslavement. The Securities Investor Protection Act of 1970 must also be examined in order to eliminate any loopholes. And finally those directly involved in investments in any industry of human enslavement must be held accountable. Otherwise slavery is likely to continue even if by another name.
“I am not now, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social
or political equality of the white and black races. I am not now nor ever have been in
favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor of
intermarriages with white people. There is a physical difference between the white and the
black races which will forever forbid the two races living together on social or political equality.
There must be a position of superior and inferior, and I am in favor of assigning the superior
position to the white man.” Lincoln in his speech to Charleston, Illinois, 1858. How consensus is reached through public opinion and the role the media plays will
be discussed under the component of marketing.
http://www.unrv.com/culture/christianity.php, The True Authorship of the New Testament
Barbara Auerbach, Robert H. Lawson, Jeffrey T. Luftig, Ph.D., Becki Ney, Jack Schaller, George E. Sexton and Polly Smith. A Guide to Effective Prison Industries Volume 1: Creating Free Venture Industires. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The American Foundation, Inc., 1979.
Bible. The Bible, King James Version. First published 1611.
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Criminal: How Lockup Quotas and "Low-Crime Taxes" Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corporations. In The Public Interest, 2013, September.
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Wesley, Bernell. "Global Issues Project: Political Science 2401 ." Georgia State University Political Science Class Project, Atlanta, 2012.
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