Like many crooked GOP schemes, the fascist corporatization of state prisons makes a slick end run around the Bill of Rights, sets up crony corporations with a guaranteed gravy train at tax payer expense, and ---to sweeten the deal --it provides them with slave labor.
It is no accident that under Gov George W. Bush, Texas beat out Mississippi for 'dead last' in education. As education declines, crime increases. Increasing crime fuels the corporate prison gravy train. Justice has nothing to do with it. It's about warehousing and enslaving people for profit.
What's the danger exactly?
Unless the nation wakes up to what happened in Texas, the nation will enter not just an economic depression but a new dark age, perhaps an end to civilization as we know it. In many ways we already share with the middle ages, a careless disregard for every life. In Texas, the crime rate increased as the prison systems --under Bush Jr --went corporate! As a result, one in 100 Texas residents are in prison, many of them 'corporate' lock ups in which prisoners have no rights. As Texas took the GOP/fascist prison route, education tanked --a recipe for future unemployment, poverty and increased crime.
Note that the GOP gained big in 2000 & '04 with uneducated voters: the "redneck" vote, the Evangelical white vote (which generally favors ideology over reason), and poor white blue-collar workers. It is the GOP's policy to gut social programs that could benefit the poor and middle class, cut taxes for the rich, and thus redistribute wealth upward. This scheme can only have popular appeal among people who can't figure out what it really is - a monstrous ripoff - but who are likely to believe propaganda if it appeals to their emotional "buttons", involving fear, security, tradition, family, country in a sentimental/nostalgic sense, and a desire for independence and freedom without risk and change. Education forms a threat to the size and stability of this GOP-malleable voting bloc, and so it is in the GOP's interest to gut education and make higher-education less and less achievable (read affordable).
And what better way to prevent education than to create a criminal class that work as slaves in incarceration camps that become increasingly impossible to get out of? And by gradually turning prisons over to private industry, whose motive is solely to make a profit, the concept of re-entering society or "correction" becomes not the goal, but the impediment to achievement of wealth. The more prisoners, the more money. And the prisoners also have to pay in two ways: by endless fines and charges, and by free labor. That free labor is actually slave labor, but nobody looks at it that way. It's considered "time served" and "punishment", a zone where rights no longer exist. The uneducated bloc overwhelmingly populate this Incarceration World, and yet they are the most vociferous about punishing the guilty. Naturally, the guilty are charged and convicted on dramatically racist lines.
Texas is particularly egregious on this, and represents a microcosm for everything that's wrong with the GOP's stance on crime and punishment.
Texas is called the gulag state for good reasons. Certainly, justice in Texas is applied inequitably. Minorities --primarily black and Hispanic --are disproportionately represented in the Texas gulag system but under represented in the State legislature, the various city councils, and the state judicial system.
Black people represent only 12% of the Texas population but comprise 44% of the total incarcerated population. Whites make up about 58% of Texas' total population, but only 30% of the prison and jail population.
These statistics are terrifying:
...by year's end 1999, there were 706,600 Texans in prison, jail, parole or probation on any given day. In a state with 14 million adults, this meant that 5% of adult Texans, or 1 out of every 20, are under some form of criminal justice supervision. The scale of what is happening in Texas is so huge, it is difficult to contrast the size of its criminal justice systems to the other states' systems it dwarfs:
- There are more Texans under criminal justice control than the entire populations of some states, including Vermont, Wyoming and Alaska.
- If Texas was a nation separate from the United States, it would have the world's highest incarceration rate--significantly higher than the United States (682), and Russia (685) which has 1 million prisoners, the world's third biggest prison system. Texas' incarceration rate is also higher than China (115), which has the world's second largest prison population (1.4 million prisoners).
- While one out of every 20 Texas adults is under some form of criminal justice control, one out of 3 young black men (29% of the black male population between 21 and 29) are in prison, jail, parole or probation on any given day.
- One out of every four adult black men in Texas is under some form of criminal justice supervision.
- Blacks in Texas are incarcerated at a rate seven times greater than whites. While there are 555 whites behind bars for every 100,000 in the Texas population, there are an astonishing 3862 African Americans behind bars for every 100,000 in the state. This is nearly 63% higher than the national incarceration rate for blacks of 2366 per 100,000.
- If Texas' black incarceration rate was applied to the United States, the number of blacks behind bars on a national level would increase by half a million. There are currently an estimated 824,900 African Americans in prison and jail in the US The new figure, 1,346,370, would increase the number of African Americans incarcerated in the US by 63%.
And of course, when these African Americans are serving the prison corporations from the inside as free slave labor, what happened to the Emancipation Proclamation?
Let's hope Obama does something to guide us out of this GOP rut.