The Motivation Behind Black Imprisonment… : ThyBlackMan.com

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The Motivation Behind Black Imprisonment…

December 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Misc., News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) According to the Sentencing Project, more than 60 percent of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. Of black males at least 20 years of age, 1 in every 8 is in prison or jail on any given day. Given the disproportionate number of black males incarcerated, it begs the question of why are so many black men the targets of the prison industrial complex. A corollary question is in order here: is there a motive behind keeping black men in prison?

One explanation to illustrate a motive as to why black men are disproportionately incarcerated is social control theory. Social Control theorists contend that when social constraints on antisocial behavior are weakened or absent, delinquent behavior emerges. An example of social  constraints and how the state exerts power is the New York City Police Department practice of racial profiling documented by Bob Herbert of the New York Times.

He found that minorities were involved in 84 percent of the stops made in regards to police looking for weapons, drugs, and other illegal antisocial acts blacks are perceived to engage in. Moreover, racial profiling by NYC Police  Department underscores the strength of the state and is an example of how state power serves as a deterrent to crime–NYC cites that crime has steadily gone down as a result of the state exerting its power.   In addition, the reduction of crime is used to justify the criminalization of black males and the over incarceration of black males.

Another reason black males are cannibalized by the prison industrial complex is the need of the capitalist system to exploit labor—black labor has been the labor of choice for exploitation since the founding of the United States.  Blackmon, in his book Slavery By Another Name, does a yeomen’s job explaining this forced labor black men were subjected to once they were freed.  Today’s over-incarceration of black males is a continuation of capitalistic practices looking to exploit black labor.

Most of us are not aware that the prison system, as we know it, did not develop until black slaves were manumitted.  Once they were freed, the South needed to recapture the free labor black male slaves provided.  Thus, the invention of the current day prison system was born.

In the year 1820, there were 783,781 black males enslaved providing free prison labor and in the year 2000, there were 792,000 black males incarcerated providing free prison labor.  Ironically, black males while incarcerated work for Fortune 500 companies such as Dell etc., but once released, the felony conviction precludes them from gaining meaningful employment.  Now consider the year 1860, the zenith of slavery.  In 1860, 1,981,395 black males where under labor bondage and juxtapose this to the year 2017 when 1,999,916 black males will be incarcerated.  According to Graham Boyd (2001), author of the Drug War Is the New Jim Crow, by 2017, 1,999,916 black males will be incarcerated and they will be under labor bondage and will receive no compensation for their labor although it is contracted out to multinational corporations—see Figure 1 for computation of inmate population for 2017.

Taken together this research strongly suggests black males have been targeted for their labor.  Moreover unbeknownst to many is that the custodians of black male labor–the prison system and for-profit prison corporations–make billions of dollars off their labor.  Sadly, many states have not set a fair wage standard to govern prison wages and employment.   Wages in prisons can range from $.50 cents an hour to $2.00 an hour.  There is something patently wrong with this arrangement. This is a modern version of slavery and the basis for intergenerational cycles of penury.

Consider an aside here: Karl Marx characterizes the oppressed as the surplus population—in this discussion it connotes the black male population.   The continuous exploitation of black male labor is state-sanctioned dehumanization.  The prison system, the state apparatus is sine qua non in capturing black male labor for capitalist production. Sadly, forced slavery is sanctioned by Section 1 of the 13th amendment which reads as follows: 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, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

The final motive in regards to keeping black men in prisons is a product of elite deviance, which uses state power to maintain the status quo instead of dealing with social problems which are byproducts of inequality.  Instead of dealing with the poor and oppressed, they are incarcerated so we do not have to deal with the issues they create as a result of their social conditions.  Black men are viewed as incorrigible reprobates unworthy of rehabilitation. Given the perceived threat of black men to the superstructure, fake campaigns such as the war on drugs and get tough on crime will continue the criminalization of an ever widening range of social problems for the sake of exploiting black male labor. Politicians are more interested in militarizing the police, building prisons as opposed to providing quality education for every child, creating jobs which provide livable wages, and developing an intelligent sound public health response to drug abuse.

Written By Byron E. Price



Comments

4 Responses to “The Motivation Behind Black Imprisonment…”
  1. Mack says:

    Great article. Like my man O.G. Law says: ‘Jail is for suckas!’

    I agree with J.S Smith to a degree. You’re right: black men need to learn a new language other than the language of thoughtless violence. Live by the bullet, you die by the bullet.

    But are we to honestly believe that 12% of the population creates 80% of the crime? Nah homie; I can’t roll with this one. Something in the soup don’t smell right on this one. I know a conspiracy when I see one. How do you explain the crazy number of black men constantly being exonerated around the country from crimes they didn’t even commit…thanks in part to the innocence project? Men spending 20 years or more in the pen, wrongfully convicted by politicians with an agenda, and left to rot in jail while said politicians pursue their ambitions?

  2. Ramon says:

    The NEW and IMPROVED system

    Is it justice or “just us” in this “system?”
    Voices scream out loud—but nobody listens.
    In these neighborhoods police aren’t the ones to follow,
    The only points they cops give out are lead and hollow.
    They’re ready to paralyze your body with a taser,
    Or got a 9mm pointed at your head with the laser.
    This system is disgusting—enough to make one sick,
    You want my name first Mr. Officer before you use your nightstick?
    Willing to lock you up on any kind of charge,
    While the rich are above the law and live real large.
    You can go to prison for stealing from a store,
    Yet Wall Street robs billions making our nation poor.
    Something here smells bad and looks pretty corrupt,
    If you can swindle billions and then claim to be bankrupt.
    Blacks get locked up longer than Whites who commit the same crimes,
    And those with enough money can purchase freedom at anytime.
    Police roam the streets in Black neighborhoods,
    Looking for the next nigga up to no good.
    Prisons looking like slave ships from way back,
    Packed and stacked back to back with young Blacks.
    Back in the day labor was performed by chain gangs,
    But the people who run the prisons are what has changed.
    The state governments once controlled the penitentiaries,
    Another tool to control minorities & the poor for centuries.
    Now prisons are controlled by private industry,
    Big corporations now profit from this tragic misery.
    Young Blacks and Latinos still providing cheap labor,
    So, when they get locked up, they do big business a favor.
    They get paid slave wages for their effort and time,
    Ask yourself, is this the new slavery or about fighting crime?
    Oh, is this about money? Yes of course!
    The government saves cash & corporations get a cheap labor force.
    What about the prisoners’ rights or their welfare?
    Let those animals eat themselves—what do we care?
    Stuffed in a cage—full of pain and rage…
    Rape, murder, suicide—the further spread of AIDS.
    Even if you make it out, there isn’t much hope…
    For an ex-convict that even lost the right to vote.
    This has long been in existence and probably won’t quit,
    And it’s going to take more than Barak Obama to change it.
    Don’t lie to yourself—this is not about rehabilitation,
    This is about the exploitation of a nation through incarceration.
    Pay attention to the spending of tax dollars fool!
    Why do we now spend more on prisons than we do on schools?
    Not enough money to educate the poor very well,
    Be we got enough dollars to build him his own prison cell.
    So, this is how criminals in turn become victims,
    It’s a Criminal Justice Industry—no longer “a system.”

  3. Ramon says:

    Is it justice or “just us” in this “system?”
    Voices scream out loud—but nobody listens.
    In these neighborhoods police aren’t the ones to follow,
    The only points they cops give out are lead and hollow.
    They’re ready to paralyze your body with a taser,
    Or got a 9mm pointed at your head with the laser.
    This system is disgusting—enough to make one sick,
    You want my name first Mr. Officer before you use your nightstick?
    Willing to lock you up on any kind of charge,
    While the rich are above the law and live real large.
    You can go to prison for stealing from a store,
    Yet Wall Street robs billions making our nation poor.
    Something here smells bad and looks pretty corrupt,
    If you can swindle billions and then claim to be bankrupt.
    Blacks get locked up longer than Whites who commit the same crimes,
    And those with enough money can purchase freedom at anytime.
    Police roam the streets in Black neighborhoods,
    Looking for the next nigga up to no good.
    Prisons looking like slave ships from way back,
    Packed and stacked back to back with young Blacks.
    Back in the day labor was performed by chain gangs,
    But the people who run the prisons are what has changed.
    The state governments once controlled the penitentiaries,
    Another tool to control minorities & the poor for centuries.
    Now prisons are controlled by private industry,
    Big corporations now profit from this tragic misery.
    Young Blacks and Latinos still providing cheap labor,
    So, when they get locked up, they do big business a favor.
    They get paid slave wages for their effort and time,
    Ask yourself, is this the new slavery or about fighting crime?
    Oh, is this about money? Yes of course!
    The government saves cash & corporations get a cheap labor force.
    What about the prisoners’ rights or their welfare?
    Let those animals eat themselves—what do we care?
    Stuffed in a cage—full of pain and rage…
    Rape, murder, suicide—the further spread of AIDS.
    Even if you make it out, there isn’t much hope…
    For an ex-convict that even lost the right to vote.
    This has long been in existence and probably won’t quit,
    And it’s going to take more than Barak Obama to change it.
    Don’t lie to yourself—this is not about rehabilitation,
    This is about the exploitation of a nation through incarceration.
    Pay attention to the spending of tax dollars fool!
    Why do we now spend more on prisons than we do on schools?
    Not enough money to educate the poor very well,
    Be we got enough dollars to build him his own prison cell.
    So, this is how criminals in turn become victims,
    It’s a Criminal Justice Industry—no longer “a system.”

  4. J.S. SMITH says:

    COULD IT BE EVEN REMOTELY POSSIBLE THAT IF BLACK MEN DIDN’T COMMIT CRIMES, VIOLENT OR OTHERWISE, THEY WOULDN’T BE INCARCERATED? OWN UP, MAN, CRIMINALS COME IN ALL COLORS. IT’S JUST THAT A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF BLACK MEN SEEM TO BE MORE WILLING TO COMMIT CRIMES THAN WORK FOR A LIVING. ALSO, WHEN THE FIRST RESPONSE TO PERCEIVED DISRESPECT IS TO PULL A GUN AND START BLASTING AWAY, WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT THE RESULT TO BE?

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