American Gulag as the latest form of capitalism

A recently published an interesting paper on "Democracy in America today," stated, inter alia, on a side of the American system as a prison. Mentioned about the so-called commercial prisons: "In the U.S., a thriving" business ", exploiting prison labor. Every 10th prisoner in this country is contained in a commercial prison. In 2010, two private prison corporations have about $ 3 billion of profit. " This is quite new in American life social phenomenon deserves to tell it in more detail …

The concept and forms of "prison slavery"

In the United States' commercial prisons "today concluded 220 thousand people. In American literature, this phenomenon is dubbed the "prison slavery." This refers to the use of prison labor. It should be clarified: the use of prison labor for profit by private capital (as opposed to, say, such work as cleaning areas and prison facilities, the implementation of some projects for the benefit of the state).

The privatization of prison labor in the U.S. is made in two basic forms:

— delivery of state prison inmates as laborers to private companies;

— privatization of prisons, turning them into private companies of various forms of ownership (including equity).

13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits forced labor, contains a caveat: "Slavery and the forcible compulsion to work, except for punishment for a crime, duly convicted, shall exist within the United States."

Thus, in American prisons slavery is legitimate.

The first of these forms ("lease" prisoners) was introduced in America in the XIX century — just after the Civil War, 1861-1865. and the abolition of slavery to the direct elimination of acute shortage of cheap labor. Allocated for the freedom of slaves accused of what they owed to former owners or for petty theft and was placed in jail. Then they were "rented out" for cotton picking, railway construction, work in the mines. In Georgia, for example, in the period of 1870-1910 years. 88% of "leased" were negros in Alabama — 93%. In Mississippi, until 1972 operated a huge plantation, which used prison labor on the basis of a contract "rent." And at the beginning of the XXI century, at least 37 states have legalized the use of labor by private companies "lease" prisoners.

American researcher, the problem of "prison slavery" Vicky Pelaez in the article "The prison business in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery?" (1) says: "The list of those corporations (which are" renting "the prisoners — VK) includes the most" cream "of the American corporate community: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT & T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom's, Revlon, Macy's , Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many others. All these companies are enthusiastically reacted to the rosy economic outlook, which promised a prison labor. From 1980 to 1994, profits (from the use of prison labor — VK) from 392 million up to 1 billion 31 million. "

The benefit of such "cooperation" to private corporations is obvious: they pay "leased" slaves on minimum wage rates set out in the relevant state. And in some places, and below this norm. For example, in Colorado — about $ 2 per hour, which is significantly less than the minimum rate.

Especially in the difficult situation the prisoners some southern states of America, where they are and to the abolition of slavery in the XIX century and continue to work on the same cotton fields. A famous medium security prison in the state of Louisiana under the name "Angola". The inmates of this prison is treated with 18 thousand acres of land on which cotton is grown, wheat, soybeans, corn. Inmates in the "Angola" receive for the work only from 4 to 20 cents per hour. Not only that: they are left only half of the money earned, and the other half is put on the account for the payment of the prisoner at the time of release. However, out of the "Angola" units (only 3%): most of the prisoners have long terms, also from ruthless exploitation and poor conditions they are leaving early life.

There are other similar prison farm in Louisiana. Only 16% of prisoners in the state are sentenced to agricultural activities. In the neighboring states — Texas and Arkansas — the proportion of such prisoners is respectively 17 and 40%.

The second form of "prison slavery" — private prisons — appeared in the U.S. in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan and then privatization of state prisons continued under Presidents George HW Bush and Bill Clinton. The first privatization of the state prison in Tennessee occurred in February 1983 venture capital firm Massey Burch Investment.

The prison-industrial complex

According to Vicky Pelaez in the U.S. by 2008, 27 states had already 100 private prisons with 62 thousand prisoners (for comparison, in the 10 years before that — five private prisons with two thousand prisoners). These prisons run by private corporations 18. The largest of them — the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Uokenhat (the new name of the firm — G4S); they controlled 75% of all prisoners of private prisons. Shares of CCA in 1986 began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2009, its market capitalization was estimated at 2.26 billion dollars

Private prison companies sign long-term concession agreement with the government in the administration of prisons. In this case, they get some money from the state for each prisoner. Payment of the prisoner is determined by the company; rates far less than the amounts paid by businesses that operate on the basis of a lease of prisoners (the first form of "prison slavery"). Fees for private prisons is sometimes equal to 17 cents per hour. For the most skilled labor do not pay more than 50 cents. In prisons, in contrast to industrial companies, there can be no talk of a strike, union activities, holidays, sick. For the "stimulus" work "prison slaves" employers promise "for the good work" to reduce the term of "his release." However, it applies a system of fines, which can actually make life imprisonment.

U.S. prison industry is based both on the direct use of private capital labor of prisoners (her "rent" or direct operation of private prisons) as well as indirect. Under the indirect use refers to the organization of production is carried out by the prison authorities and the prisoners products produced under the contract comes to private companies. The price of this product is usually much lower than the market. Determine the scope of indirect use of prison labor by private U.S. companies is difficult. There may a lot of abuse on the grounds of collusion of the state prison administration and the private company. This kind of business is usually attributed to the "shadow".

According to the American press, on the basis of private prisons began to emerge, "the prison-industrial complex." He became prominent in the production of many kinds of products in the United States. Today, the U.S. prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, uniform belts and shoulder belt, bullet-proof vests, ID cards, shirts, pants, tents, backpacks and flasks for the army of the country. In addition to military equipment and uniforms prison produces 98% of the market installation tools, 46% of bullet-proof vests, 36% of home appliances, 30% of headphones, microphones, megaphones, and 21% of office furniture, aircraft and medical equipment, and more.

Vicky Pelaez The article reads: "The prison industry — one of the fastest growing industries, and its investors are on Wall Street." Referring to another source, the same author writes: "In this multi-million dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, online directories. It is direct advertising campaigns, has design and construction firms, investment funds on Wall Street, the building management firms, in food supply, and it has an armed guard and padded outer chamber. "

The rate of profit in the prison industry in the U.S. is very high. In connection with this, transnational corporations (TNCs) and decreased even disappeared incentive to transfer their production from the United States in the economically backward countries. Not even possible that the process can go in the opposite direction. Vicky Pelaez says: "Thanks to prison labor United States were once again an attractive location for investment in work that used to be the lot of Third World countries. In Mexico, located near the assembly plant was closed and transferred its operations to the prison, "San Quentin" (California). In Texas, a factory fired 150 workers and contracted with private prisons, "Lockhart", which are now going to wiring for companies such as IBM and Compaq. A member of the Oregon House of Representatives recently asked the corporation Nikepotoropitsya the transfer of production from Indonesia to Oregon, saying that "here at the manufacturer will not have problems with transportation, here we will provide a competitive prison labor. '"

Profiteering as a factor in the growth of the American Gulag

American business is felt that the use of their own "prison slaves" — "gold mine." Accordingly, the largest U.S. corporations have become delve into how a contingent of prisoners in U.S. custody, and do everything possible to ensure that these prisoners have been as much as possible. We believe that it is the interests of corporate business contributed to the fact that the number of prisoners in the United States grew rapidly. To quote again Vicky Pelaez: "Private hire prisoners provokes the desire to put people in jail. Prisons depend on income. Corporate stockholders who make money on the labor of prisoners sentenced lobbying for longer periods in order to provide themselves with the labor force. The system feeds itself, "- said the study of the Progressive Labor Party, which considers the prison system," an imitation of Nazi Germany in regard to forced slave labor and concentration camps. "

However, even if the state prisons, the use of prison labor to the authorities profitable. In state prisons, the fees for prison labor is higher than in private. Inmates receive 2 — $ 2.5 per hour (excluding overtime). However, state prisons are actually on the "self-financing": half the wages of prisoners is taken from them to pay "rent" the camera and nutrition. So talk about that state prison in the United States "burden" the budget of the country, you just need to justify their transfer to private hands. (2)

(1) Global Research, 10.03.2008

(2) B. Eagle. The closed world of America / /

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