01 March, 2007

american gulag - "weapon of mass social destruction"

(San Quentin & Mt. Tamalpais
home to CA's death row)

Black Agenda Report Executive Editor Glen Ford:
By 2011, the U.S. prison and jail population will have added nearly 200,000 inmates - a 13 percent overall increase and a 16 percent jump for women, according to a 50-state study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. About half these new inmates will be Blacks, whose mass confinement is the imperative that fuels the relentless growth of the largest and most pervasive Gulag in the history of mankind. . . .

The 200,000 new inmates projected for 2011 understates the huge presence of the Gulag in American society, especially African American life. The anticipated increase is for inmates serving sentences, currently about 1.5 million. The actual total currently behind prison and jail bars is about 2.2 million - again, half Black. This number would rise to just under 2.5 million in five years. However, more than seven million men and women are today under criminal justice system supervision, either prison, jail, parole or probation - a mass of humanity that would swell to nearly eight million by 2011, based on the Pew projections. That's roughly the population of New York City, or the combined populations of Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. The number of new justice system-supervised persons, alone, will exceed the population of Detroit.
. . .

As Paul Street reports in this issue of BAR, "one in three black males will be sent to state or federal prison at some point in their lives compared to one in six Latino males and one in seventeen white males."
. . .

The poisons of the Gulag have leached into the very fabric of Black society, obliterating "prospects for progress in every arena of African American life," as stated in an "Urgent Petition to the Congressional Black Caucus" now circulating on the Internet.

Only a purposeful, conscious, unrelenting, systematically executed national public policy of Black mass incarceration in the United States - all 50 of them, and the federal government - can explain the Gulag's exponential growth over the last three and a half decades. The genesis of this public policy - which is arguably genocidal in its nature, dimensions, and impact - is equally clear: Mass Black incarceration is America's answer to the Black Freedom Movement of the Sixties and early Seventies.
. . .

Prison populations have ballooned eight-fold since 1970, and more than quadrupled since 1980. Tim Wise, the anti-racist activist and author, notes that:

"In 1964, 65% of all prison admits were white, while only 35% were people of color. By 1991, these figures had reversed. Did whites decide collectively to stop committing crimes in the intervening years, while Black and brown folks went nuts? Or was something else at work? According to FBI data, the percentage of crimes committed by African Americans has remained steady over the past 18 years, while the number of Blacks in prison has tripled and their rates of incarceration have skyrocketed."
. . .the case [of the SF or Panther 8 - see Legacy of Torture & the San Francisco 8] is one among many indications that the American state is gearing up to launch a new level of repression - that the mass Black incarceration policy of the previous three and a half decades, although hugely successful in both mutilating the social fabric of Black America and acclimating white America to a pervasive prison and police surveillance apparatus, is nevertheless insufficient to the new tasks envisioned.

Yes, Cointelpro is back (as if it ever really left), but with a much more ambitious mission: to more firmly establish in law and practice the foundations for a centralized police-state regime that can respond quickly and massively to the domestic turmoil that must inevitably accompany a New International Order that George Bush had expected would be nearly achieved by now, if the first stage, the conquest of Iraq, had been successful. In this context, the arrest of the Panther Eight is just the closing of a 36-year-old loop, a connecting and bringing forward of older repressions - and ancient white hysterias - to buttress a New Domestic Order justified by the fictitious War on Terror. The Panther Eight are the specter of a permanent source of terror for white America: angry Black men.
. . .

Point One of the Black Agenda Report/Congressional Black Caucus Monitor petition now in circulation demands that the CBC, "individually and collectively, take immediate action to:

DISMANTLE RACIALLY SELECTIVE MASS INCARCERATION, beginning with action to sunset or repeal all mandatory sentencing legislation, eliminate the differential in penalties for crack and powdered cocaine, and halt privatization of prisons and prison health services. America's prison population has multiplied eightfold since 1970. African Americans are one-eighth of this nation, but fully half of her prisons and jails. Mass Black incarceration is a national public policy that destroys the prospects for progress in every arena of African American life. With projections that the prison and jail population will increase by nearly 200,000 in the next four years, the CBC should demand an immediate cap on federal and state prison growth, the latter on penalty of loss of federal criminal justice funding to those states not in compliance."

For two generations, virtually every Black family has heard the tolling of the prison bell. In truth, it is tolling for the Constitution, as well. Black America can no longer bear the weight of mass incarceration, but the larger society - and those African Americans who mistakenly believe they have somehow sidestepped the juggernaut - must also recognize that the Gulag infrastructure is a Weapon of Mass Social Destruction. Defuse it, or perish.
Need it be added this isn't merely a "Black" issue? It cuts to the core of the nation.


Anonymous nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez said...

absolutely. great post.

8:20 PM  

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