An essay on the criminal industrial complex

Curtis Sanders

Issue 52

Prison Focus Issue 52, Summer 2017

At the end of World War II the great American hero four star General Douglas MacArthur spoke out warning the public to be aware of this new “military industrial complex” in the years to come. For he had foreseen how greedy and insidious this new industry had become. With huge profits made providing the equipment, material and machinery for America’s war machine, he knew that this new power would not sit idle in times of peace, but would instead use all of their power and resources to influence new military conflicts. Today we can look back in history, and at America’s current foreign policy we see how prophetic his dire warnings turned out to be. What has fallowed since World War II has been decades of continual conflict. Yes, all dressed up and justified in the name of democracy or to end tyranny. But war none the less, no matter how you dress it up. We have been involved in continuous conflict since that time: Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, the Iraq war, Libya, Syria, and many other conflicts. These conflicts are presented in politically correct terms to justify our actions, not to our enemies, but to ourselves. But sadly we are continually lied to about the real reasoning. And even more sadly, and criminally negligent, is that American soldiers - our own heart and blood - are continually placed in harms way, fighting in unwinnable wars. Rules of engagement and war policy are engineered with the intent not to win a war, but to maintain the status quo on the battlefield in order to insure continual conflict. Gone are the wars of occupation and imperialism. We no longer take a country nor its natural resources as our own.

Contrary to what people believe, we never went to war for oil, we haven’t seen any country’s oil reserves. Wars of conquest are no longer in the interest of the powers to be, that top 1% who profited from the proceeds of supplying our war machine and other profit based monopolies; those with the power to influence America’s foreign-policy. Instead we now wage wars of destabilization. Look at Iraq, Libya, Syria. Look at the efforts to influence Egypt and other Middle East countries. We are simply destabilizing the area to ensure decades of conflict to come. Not in the name of democracy, or because of fictitious weapons of mass destruction, but in the name of profit, at a huge cost, not only physically on the tax payers, but in the lives of America’s youth, our sons, brothers and fathers. [editor’s note: and daughters, sisters and mothers.] And now there is a new threat, not only to America’s youth, but to the future of our country and the very fabric of our society. A new government program designed to create a new lucrative industry for those who supply its goods and meet its needs. One that looks to profit not only from the blood and lives of our sons, daughters, mothers and fathers, but to profit from the very devastating misery and anguish of human enslavement itself. Sadly, we have no Douglas MacArthur, no great American hero to warn us and give dire warnings. Nor does society today even see this threat. Nor are they aware of this insidious and cancerous new profiteering monopoly that has arisen in our American society. This is the “Law Enforcement and Prison Industrial Complex”, profiting off of the enslavement and imprisonment of our very own sons and daughters.

Let me ask you, what is the longest war in America’s history? And most would be oblivious to know that it’s America’s so-called War on Drugs, which has now been ongoing for over 40 years and counting. These are non-violent human beings who suffer from drug addiction. Not killers and not high-level drug traffickers. Some, like myself, serving decades. People with substance abuse problems are sentenced under the so-called “King-Pin Laws” which are intended for international large scale drug traffickers. Thanks to overzealous prosecution and abuse of power, these laws are instead used to imprison everyone who is prosecuted for drugs federally. And what does this do? It’s filling our prisons with a victimized class of people who are then imprisoned and enslaved for decades; warehousing our youth. This is not a war of decisive actions, but one designed for continual “conflict” or more aptly as a continual campaign in which America will continue to throw away tax payer dollars. This campaign was designed not to end or eradicate the drug problem but rather to fuel incarceration. Federal money is poured into law enforcement, correctional complexes in private companies. Not only does this war on drugs profit those who service their vast enterprises of policing, prosecuting, and warehousing humanity, but it also builds an elected official voter base. This voter base is not limited to those in law enforcement and corrections, or their descendants. A new “tough on crime” voter base is always, constantly expanding and influenced by misinformation campaigns and fear mongering.

We’ve all heard the statistics. The US has only 5% of the world’s entire population, but has 25% of all the worlds entire incarcerated persons. We have incarcerated more people in our prisons than China, Mexico, North Korea, Russia and all eastern bloc countries combined. How is that? In the land of the free? We always look at and criticize Third World countries crying in outrage at their draconian and tyrannical policies. But in truth we imprison and enslave 25% of the entire world’s incarcerated and enslaved persons. And for what? Profit. Like those confined on a slave ship, or livestock confined in holding pens, we are herded together in the small spaces and given the barest of necessities, only enough food to ensure we can sustain lives and cheap clothes to cover our bodies. Rehabilitative programs that are offered in prison are shams. They are focused on funneling money to the contractors who provide goods and services needed to sustain this ugly industry, and to provide high-paying jobs to the correctional employees who work in that field. No effort is afforded to those seeking education. Instead the focus is on filling enrollment records for nonexistent classes to ensure future funding.

These insidious frauds affect all departments and all facets of the prison industrial complex. Money intended by legislative intent for rehabilitative programs, education, even inmate food, is never granted or applied in good faith to the execution of such programs. Instead this money is diverted either externally to privately owned companies or internally for other expenditures. This may include new equipment for the prison employees, staff lounges or even for their own dining and mess halls, where they eat not the same substandard food as the inmate population, but instead feast lavishly on top quality cuisine purchased out of the inmate food service budget. These funds are never spent on the incarcerated. Our prisons have become not only profit based for those who established contracts to provide the goods and services to the prisons, or in the all too common case private prisons where they own the prisons themselves. But the internal mentality of the correctional worker is so perverted that it is a given that funds intended for inmates shall not be used for inmates. The mentality of prison employees has been indoctrinated and degraded to the point that they no longer look upon inmates as wards or even people, but as a commodity to be housed, fed, counted and traded.

From one arrested by the police on the street, traded to the courts, public defender’s office, probation, parole and prisons, those entrapped in our criminal justice system are simply commodities to be traded from one department to another, in a never ending cycle of profiting on humanities misery. And yet the public, society as a whole, is unaware of this suffering, of the gross abuses facilitated by those in power who profit off of misdirected government dollars, or the manipulation of the “Law Enforcement Prison Industrial Complex” where no longer is there any “corrections” or “rehabilitation”, but simply an effort to incarcerate the most people possible in the name and goal of profits and numbers. The US government has in recent years fought what it termed “wars” against AIDS, drug abuse, poverty, illiteracy and terrorism. Each of these wars have a huge budget legitimized by legislators. But ultimately all one must do is follow the money to see who profits. Who has the contracts? Who are the shareholders? Why are these contract holders allowed to hold such monopoly? Why are antitrust laws not enforced in areas of private corporations profiting on government contracts? Who has such influence over government employees to get such a lucrative contract? Every congressman, every senator, every politician has their own pet projects, their own special interest groups they are indebted to; their own private monopolies that they own a share or interest in. The industry owners and shareholders are the ones who control public opinion and ultimately control and influence our domestic and foreign policies. Capitalism has corrupted our society at great cost. As long as there is so little oversight of government expenditures, so little public awareness, there will always be those who will manipulate and profit off any government spending, no matter the human suffering.

Today the mainstream media on behalf of the rich not only influences public opinion, on such things as supporting tough on crime initiatives and tough sentencing with forms of fear mongering, but the media also intentionally fails to do in-depth reporting; such as following the money, or in-depth investigation of government spending. Isn’t that odd when our nation is so far in debt? Shouldn’t there be more public awareness of government spending? More accountability? However, the sad truth is that our media too is corrupted, bought and paid for. Where is the information regarding legitimate concerns that the people should be aware of, such as national debt, government spending, cases of undue political influence over our officials, and world news and events? Our mainstream media instead promotes an agenda of ignorance and an utter lack of accountability. You are more likely to hear headlines about the Kardashians or stories promoting the agendas of the political parties and their financial backers. However what you will never hear is real news which should be of dire concern to all Americans, such as out-of-control and unsustainable government spending and the ballooning deficit. We do not hear about the state of America’s financial market, or of the global financial market. Nor do we hear warnings about the potential outcomes of our out-of-control spending, for the collapse of the American economy and the American dollar. It would be the same as Greece and Cyprus and every other nation state that has allowed their leaders to milk their economy dry. Due to our ignorance and the lack of interest by the American people to question our policies, foreign and domestic, the government will continue spending in ways which will continue to profit the top 1%. As is the case with the government spending of dictatorships, little of the funds go to fulfill the needs of the masses. Society needs to wake up and look at the reasons behind our domestic and foreign policies; to see past the smoke screens and misinformation. America needs to realize that we are no longer a true free democracy, but a nation controlled by the rich. Yes, much as a shadow government. This raping of our nations resources and lives, is an utter mockery and insult to the great nation that we are supposed to be.

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