2015: The Lost Women

For many poor women, welfare and family assistance was their primary means of escaping abusive mates. Such programs provided support for them and their children. Cutbacks in welfare have now caused a dramatic drop in the number who dare attempt to flee hurtful relationships. Low paying jobs, chronic unemployment, and poverty in general have left many impoverished women with few survival resources. In desperate attempts at finding means of support and escaping their batterers, some women turn to drug dealing–which, in turn, helps explain the sharp increase in the female prison population. In recent years, the number of women in prison has climbed to over 200,000 with African-American women being hardest hit by the lock-’em-up craze. Incarcerated women endure poor medical care, sexual harassment, forced strip searches, beatings, and repeated rape by male guards. The United States is one of the few countries that allow unaccompanied male staff to […] Read More

2014: Chris Hedges: How Some Prisoners Are America’s Most Exploited Workers

The wages paid to prisoners for labor inside prisons have declined over the past three decades. Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society. […] Read More

2014: It’s Time to Restore the Dignity of the Formerly Incarcerated

I do not define myself as an ex-convict; I am a person. To use that term is to take the worst moments of my life and call that whole life. I know there is more to life and that’s why I am now speaking out and fighting for the restoration of human dignity for myself and the 65 million formerly incarcerated persons living in the United States. I was convicted of first-degree murder at age 19 and sentenced to life in prison. Although I was tried and sentenced as an adult, reading through my letters to friends and family at the time it is clear that I was still just a child. In 1981 I was released on parole after serving 10 years in prison. In the three decades since my release, I have been working to expose the flaws in a system that now holds over two million […] Read More