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Mumia: US Incapable of Protecting Its People

The nation’s best known political prisoner asks, “Who really believes that the US government can, or will, vaccinate over 300 million people – a government that can’t find the people it promised to give money to?”  Mumia Abu Jamal, like most of the nation’s two million incarcerated people, has been on lockdown since the Covid-19 crisis began. With 100,00 dead, Abu Jamal said the US “is marching headlong into the abyss.”

source: Mumia: US Incapable of Protecting Its People

Let My People Go! A Call To Release All U.S. Prisoners in Response to COVID-19

rashid-2013-self-portrait1U.S officials have often criticized Iran’s prison conditions.  As awful as the prison conditions in Iran may be, Amerika, the proclaimed bastion of freedom and democracy, is much worse.  Shane Bauer, the Amerikan captured and imprisoned for 2years in Iran, bore witness to this. In an interview in the November/December 2012 issue of Mother Jones magazine, he described the hardships of solitary confinement in Iranian prisons and found upon entering U.S. prisons, that conditions of confinement in Iran paled in comparison to those routinely practiced in Amerika.

Furthermore, in response to the coronavirus outbreak, Iran has released some 85,000 of its prisoners-over half of its prison population-including its high security and political prisoners.  Yet Amerika refuses to release anyone but a handful of jail detainees in response to the pandemic.

We must demand greater action and the release of all U.S. prisoners, most of whom are unjustly confined anyway.


The Injustice of U.S. Imprisonment

With nearly two and a half million people in prison in the U.S., and poor, oppressed, and colonized people making up the disproportionate majority of them, almost every black and brown person in Amerika has a loved one or knows someone who is locked up.  The impact of these mass incarceration practices targeted especially at black and brown communities, and almost exclusively at the poor, has been as disruptive of and destructive to our communities and families as the old chattel slave system that routinely sold loved ones off to distant slave owners, never to be seen or heard from again.

Because of the poverty and limited resources of these targeted groups, and the common practice of imprisoning people far away from their homes and communities,  U.S. prisoners are as lost to their loved ones as were the antebellum slaves that were sold away.

There is no more justice in U.S. imprisonment than there was in chattel slavery.  In fact, the 13th amendment was passed after the Civil War as a compromise to southern slaveholders, that substituted racially selected imprisonment that subjected the imprisoned to state-controlled forced labor and social containment, for the old system of privately controlled forced labor and social containment.

Almost everyone in prison in the U.S. was “convicted” of crimes through the admittedly corrupt plea bargain process, through which they are coerced to pleas guilty, often for crimes that they were innocent of or were overly charged for, because they couldn’t afford to hire lawyers who’d mount any real defenses for them.

For over 95% of Amerika’s imprisoned, there were no trials before any of juries of their peers as the U.S. Constitution falsely promises and coming from marginalized social groups that the establishment cares nothing about, prisoners’ health needs mean nothing to prison officials, which is why COVID-19 presents an especial danger to prisoners.


U.S. Prisons Are A Viral Hothouse

In the institutionalized prison setting, where large numbers of people are forcibly confined in close proximity to each other, a virus-like COVID-19 would spread like bacteria in a Petrie dish.  Not to mention that officials would let it spread and go untreated as they have with other deadly viruses like Hepatitis-C.

Not only do officials care nothing of prisoners’ health needs, but prison medical staff, who are known to be among the lowest quality, are undertrained and underqualified to provide needed care, and often can not find work anywhere else.  Many are actually forbidden, because of professional misconduct from working anywhere but in prisons. One of many examples was Dr. Michael Mitcheff, who worked as Chief Medical Officer for the entire Indiana Prison System, where I’ve been imprisoned since November of 2018.  As a private doctor, Mitcheff had his medical license revoked for repeatedly writing and filling false prescriptions in others’ names to feed his own hydrocodone addiction. His license was reinstated on a probationary basis in 1999, with the medical board stating, “He may only work in the Indiana Prison System) [!!?].[1]  Mitcheff, the Indiana Prison System, and its medical contractor, Corizon was subsequently subject to a wave of lawsuits for malpractice and withholding needed medical care from prisoners. As a result, Corizon’s contract was terminated in 2016.

Under existing circumstances, COVID-19 would become a pandemic of the worse sort inside U.S. prisons, which only compounds the injustice and inhumanity inherent in the Amerikan so-called criminal justice process.  If Iran can release over half of its prisoners, Amerika can certainly release all of its own. Let us put forward the demand to let all our people go!


Dare to Struggle!
Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!

[1]  Virginia Black, “Turn Over, Conditions Plague Doctor Hiring” South Bend Tribune, June 13, 2016



Prison, Profits And The Black Community

prisonsAs major cities move towards decarceration and are closing jails and prisons, smaller cities and rural communities are incarcerating people at higher rates. Image: MMG

  • Incarceration can cost an average of $60K per inmate in some states
  •  In 2017, there were 1,549 black prisoners for every 100K black adults

On any given day, U.S. jails now hold more than 730,000 people. While most of the urban poor are susceptible to harsher treatment from law enforcement which has resulted in the high incarceration rate of minorities, it is in small cities and rural communities where the prison population is growing. As major cities move towards decarceration and close jails, smaller cities and rural communities are incarcerating people at higher rates, and investing heavily in jail expansion at the expense of taxpayers.

Why This Matters: The United States is the global leader in prison population, which has implications on taxpayer spending.  In 2011, it was reported that the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that local communities spent $22.2 billion on jails. In some states, it’s as much as $60,000 per inmate and is often the case that taxpayers foot the bill for meals, housing and securing people in state and federal penitentiaries.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimated that local communities spent $22.2 billion on jails

The prison system has become a big business. Did you know that for-profit prison companies started in response to the government’s inability to handle the skyrocketing incarcerated population? The government uses these private companies to build and manage local jails. Private companies earn billions of dollars for services to incarcerated people often with little oversight, ranging from phones, to medical devices and facilities.

It’s especially stunning when you breakdown the  racial makeup of U.S. prisons that continues to look substantially different from the demographics of the country as a whole. African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at a rate that is 5.1 times the imprisonment of whites. In 2017, blacks represented 12% of the U.S. adult population, but 33% of the sentenced prison population. Whites accounted for 64% of adults but 30% of prisoners.

Situational Awareness: In 2017, there were 1,549 black prisoners for every 100,000 black adults, nearly six times the imprisonment rate for whites (272 per 100,000) and nearly double the rate for Hispanics (823 per 100,000). Though Blacks have long outnumbered whites in U.S. prisons, there has been a significant decline in the number of Black prisoners in the last decade. Even with the decline, in 2017, blacks still make up one-third of the prison population, and are still continuing to have a detrimental effect on our communities, in terms of employment opportunities, education and even infant mortality.

This article by Christopher Pitts was originally published by CultureBanx. It is reposted here with permission. Read the original.