Thursday, February 23, 2006

Work Makes You Free has a wonderful piece of investigative reporting out today on new detention centers under construction by Halliburton. One of the most disturbing lines is that they are for "new programs":

there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with "an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs," KBR said.

Is this for "radical" Muslims? Radical Lefties? People withe the wrong "attitude"? Really, this is amazing. My brain has a hard time believing that the U.S. would arrest and intern large numbers of U.S. citizens because of political views. Well sort of. I guess nothing can surprise me anymore.

Obviously our detention rate climbs every year in this counrty and because of its unfair prejudices, it targets the poor and those with colored skin. Why not then target me or you. I mean, why not? Law and "freedom" do not seem to bind this administration, while Gonzalez, the appointed defender of our laws, is allowed to prevaricate in front of the nation, called to ask only by a handful of voices in congress.

Read the whole report and look at the plans for labor camps too. Yes, labor camps:

The Army document, first drafted in 1997, underwent a "rapid action revision" on Jan. 14, 2005. The revision provides a "template for developing agreements" between the Army and corrections facilities for the use of civilian inmate labor on Army installations.

On its face, the Army's labor program refers to inmates housed in federal, state and local jails. The Army also cites various federal laws that govern the use of civilian labor and provide for the establishment of prison camps in the United States, including a federal statute that authorizes the attorney general to "establish, equip, and maintain camps upon sites selected by him" and "make available ... the services of United States prisoners" to various government departments, including the Department of Defense.

Arbeit macht... I do not want to say it, because it would belittle the Holocaust. However, the idea of forced labor would fit right in for this punishment society...

There are just so many problems with this idea of forced labor. Even prisoners should be paid a fair wage, otherwise it easily becomes slave-like labor. Also, one of the most hideous things our founding citizens fought against were galleys and debtors' prisons. America has to wake up. [I just re-edited these last two paragraphs for clarity.]

More info [update]

A little bit of research yielded this rather prescient article by a Dr. Niman. He states:

State and local governments nationwide are finding out that even with cuts to other programs, they cannot afford the costly price tags associated with their new jails. To meet these costs, states are turning to prison labor. American prison administrators are now "leasing" prison labor to private corporations in a system reminiscent of their Nazi predecessors, who "leased" concentration camp labor to corporations such as Ford and BASF. The difference is that while the Third Reich prisoners were virtual slaves, the current American prisoners are paid. Their wages, however, are often less than state minimum wages, and the prison systems take about 80% of that wage for "room and board."

The prisoners who stuff junk mail into envelopes for the likes of Bank of America, Chevron and Macy’s, take telephone reservations for hotels and airlines such as Eastern, pack golf balls for Spaulding, repair circuit boards supplied to Dell, Texas Instruments and IBM, etc. often earn about $1 an hour. During the 1990s creative managers leased prison labor for a variety of tasks ranging from the nocturnal restocking of shelves at Toys R Us to raising hogs and manufacturing Honda parts and El Salvadoran license plates.

Not surprsingly, some of this information is not easy to find on government servers. I didn't find it easily at the Census Bureau. The DOJ does however have some stats:

Summary findings

On December 31, 2004 --

-- 2,135,901 prisoners were held in Federal or State prisons or in local jails -- an increase of 2.6% from yearend 2003, less than the average annual growth of 3.4% since yearend 1995.

-- there were an estimated 486 prison inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents -- up from 411 at yearend 1995.

-- the number of women under the jurisdiction of State or Federal prison authorities increased 4.0% from yearend 2003, reaching 104,848 and the number of men rose 1.8%, totaling 1,391,781.

At yearend 2004 there were 3,218 black male sentenced prison inmates per 100,000 black males in the United States, compared to 1,220 Hispanic male inmates per 100,000 Hispanic males and 463 white male inmates per 100,000 white males.

I repeat: Scary.

I hear that Eric Schlosser is writing a book on this. I hope he has as much success as with Fast Food Nation.