Mar 4, 2009

the real cost of prisons

It's fascinating watching the Rockefeller Drug Laws be knocked back a bunch of steps. Drug arrests and arrests of vendors or homeless people in public space are so much of what the NYPD is about. The entire Hudson Valley is covered in prisons, many of which are filled with people being held for absurdly long sentences on drug charges. The bulk of the arrests were made just for possession. Of course those people should be freed.

It has an interesting edge, though, because for the first time in decades, prison populations may shrink, and some prisons may close. Of the three prisons near my home, at least one is filled primarily with drug offenders. Maybe two. (Different people give different reports, and prison websites are useless.) One expert on Democracy Now said whole upstate towns would be closing down when their prison closed. It feels really strange to live in a town that may see collapse because its evil main industry is being challenged.

Reading an entirely different article about Queens County Farm Museum (agriculture in the city, we like that), they make reference to sending animals to slaughter at a slaughterhouse on Long Island that uses prisoners as workers for "job training." More like training your free workers, a.k.a. slaves, to be killers. Crazy!

Things like this shouldn't surprise me. After all, we live in a country where people couldn't figure out where Timothy McVeigh got his killer instinct. Duh, the military! There's nothing quite as brilliant as locking up innocent people and training them to be killers.

Image from the book The Real Cost of Prisons, from PM Press.

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