KEEPING MILLIONS FROM VOTING: Locked Well Within the Prison Industrial Complex

Prisons and incarceration have become the panacea for all our social ills. Where once the U.S. looked to the welfare state to alleviate social problems, today the U.S. looks to prisons, prisons and more prisons. TheExperiment Network uses the term Prison Industrial Complex to encompass both this phenomenon and the corresponding reality that capitalism flourishes from locking people in cages. We recognize that an integral component of the Prison Industrial Complex is the dramatic increase in the incarceration of people of color, women and the poor, along with the continued imprisonment of political prisoners. In this Brief followed within, and presented for immediate perusal, is three recent reports on incarceration and the extent to which it has greatly brutalized a democracy.

Prisons and incarceration have become the panacea for all our social ills. Where once the U.S. looked to the welfare state to alleviate social problems, today the U.S. looks to prisons, prisons and more prisons. TheExperiment Network uses the term Prison Industrial Complex to encompass both this phenomenon and the corresponding reality that capitalism flourishes from locking people in cages. We recognize that an integral component of the Prison Industrial Complex is the dramatic increase in the incarceration of people of color, women and the poor, along with the continued imprisonment of political prisoners. In this Brief followed within, and presented for immediate perusal, is three recent reports on incarceration and the extent to which it has greatly brutalized a democracy.

MARC MAUER

As Co-author of the report “Losing the Vote: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States,” Marc Mauer is also assistant director of The Sentencing Project. He said yesterday: “America has just replaced Russia as the world leader in its rate of incarceration and incarcerates far more prisoners than any other nation — nearly 2 million. In next week’s election, 4 million Americans will be locked out of the voting booth as a result of laws that disenfranchise persons convicted of a felony. In swing states such as Florida, where more than 600,000 persons are disenfranchised, these laws could directly affect the state’s electoral outcome. The racial disparities of the criminal justice system have led to 13 percent of African-American males being excluded from the electoral process. Ironically, 50 years after the beginnings of the civil rights movement, an increasing number of African Americans are excluded from the political process each year. We no longer have laws that require literacy tests or poll taxes, but the racially disproportionate results today resemble those of a hundred years ago.” Mauer is the author of Race to Incarcerate.

e-mail Marc Mauer at mauer@sentencingproject.org,
direct link to: www.sentencingproject.org

ROSE BRAZ

Program director for Critical Resistance and a criminal defense attorney, Braz said today: “One out of every 35 African Americans is behind bars. One in three African-American youth is under some kind of criminal supervision, whether that be jail, probation or parole. If you’re disenfranchising people based on criminal convictions, it’s going to disproportionately impact the power of people of color to vote in our society since the criminal justice system is racist. African Americans constitute 14 percent of drug users nationally, but represent 35 percent of drug arrests, 55 percent of drug convictions and 75 percent of prison admissions.”

e-mail Rose Braz at rosebraz@aol.com,

direct link to: www.criticalresistance.org

JASON ZIEDENBERG

Senior policy analyst from the Justice Policy Institute, Ziedenberg said today: “The policies that have disenfranchised such a large segment of the African-American community have had their greatest impact in the state of Texas, which this August surpassed California as having the largest prison population in the country (161,000). Under the watch of Gov. George W. Bush and former Democratic Gov. Ann Richards — whom Bush once attacked for being ‘soft on crime’ — the average annual growth of the Texas prison population during the 1990s was almost twice the average annual growth in the other states…. The incarceration rate for blacks in Texas is 63 percent higher than the national incarceration rate for blacks. Texas became number one in prisons under George W. Bush’s watch, and under the Clinton-Gore administration the federal prison system doubled in size. On Nov. 7, both major party candidates bear responsibility for the fact that huge numbers of the African-American population cannot vote…”

e-mail Jason Ziedenberg at jzdc@cjcj.org,

direct link to: www.cjcj.org

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Our Stance and Critique of the Prison Industrial Complex

TheExperiment Network is strongly committed to challenging the existing structure of “criminal justice” which is based on revenge, punishment, and violence. As part of the emerging international movement for penal abolition, we envision a society where fundamental social problems are no longer “solved” through the mass warehousing (and periodic torture) of human beings, the overwhelming majority of whom are poor, people of color and non-violent.

For more information, contact the Institute for Public Accuracy:

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020;
David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

http://www.accuracy.org/index.htm

Author: Institute for Public Accuracy

News Service: TheExperiment Network

URL: http://www.accuracy.org/new.htm