Never have as many people been locked up than right now, here in the United States. The US has more prisoners per capita than anywhere else on the planet and that number continues to climb at a terrifying rate. Once within the prison system, inmates are abused and exploited out of sight and out of mind of the rest of the population. With these crimes against humanity growing ever greater and the impossible to ignore racial disparity continuing to get worse, it's time we take a critical look at our prison system and the monster we've all created.

This episode is dedicated to the prisoners currently on strike across the United States who just want to be treated with the humanity that all of us deserve.

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Chapters

  • 3:49 Nothing New
  • 11:42 Prisons in America Today
  • 15:57 Prison Labor Today
  • 27:42 What sparked the strike?
  • 28:53 Forced riots
  • 32:54 All demands matter
  • 38:28 What can we do on the outside?
  • 42:38 Language
  • 45:18 Risks higher for some
  • 46:36 How large is this prison strike?
  • 57:52 Benefits of labor?
  • 1:03:33 Disenfranchisement: Has the debt been paid or not?
  • 1:05:40 Collapse?
  • 1:12:20 What can we do?

(Sorry this transcript sucks, we'll try and fix it soon!)


David Torcivia:

I'm David Torcivia.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:00] I'm Daniel Forkner.

[0:12] But if we learn from all of this maybe we can stop that the world might be broken but it doesn't have to be.

Will Adams:

[0:20] While the prisoners are are like referring to slavery in the specific sense of, labor in that demand when people inside talk about prison slavery talking about a much broader sense of prison slavery in so far as like a complete. And total like dehumanization and education of human beings to the point where they are basically treated like an animal.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:49] David today were talking about the system of mass incarceration that is so Infamous now here in the United States, for putting people behind bars and in great numbers, and when we think about the purpose of a prison maybe we have some kind of idea that it's supposed to punish people for heinous crimes act as a deterrent for committing crimes that we don't want to see in our society and then serve as a way to rehabilitate people so that when they come back into society their behavior is reformed to fit societal standards but when we start looking at this system in-depth a number of things start to challenge those assumption.

David Torcivia:

[1:30] Yeah I mean the prison complex is a very weak facade of pretending to be this thing that we need that is a positive. Good for society and even just like very casually looking into it that whole thing falls apart do and what you see instead of the system that. Entirely on exploitation, abuse horrible treatment of humans even if those humans What Might Have Been judged by Society is being somebody that is I mean quite frankly on wanted that's why they end up in these places and that's why we treat them this way. It's such a shocking level of exploitation of Labor of horrible abuse in these places and the whole thing just very quickly falls apart and we see it as something that's based around profit and around control but not in the way that we think in terms of controlling crime but more in terms of controlling people and populations that are deemed unwanted.

Daniel Forkner:

[2:22] Right I think the control part is very important because many people now are aware of the profit incentives to go into prisons and how, those that manage and operate prisons have an incentive to put people in there and to lobby for legislation that makes it easier to do so because they make money from it.

David Torcivia:

[2:39] And in some cases there's guaranteed minimum number of beds in prisons and especially in ice detainment facilities will government guarantees that they'll be at least this many prisoners in this prison at all times which is like the really the end level gross.

Daniel Forkner:

[2:55] Like let's just assume that you know X percent of our population is just.

David Torcivia:

[2:58] Will always be a prisoner or be being deported.

Daniel Forkner:

[3:02] But then the control part is another thing that probably doesn't get talked about enough where if you decide that in order to maintain power we need to keep a certain cohort of the.

[3:29] You know we over police certain populations we make it super easy to arrest certain populations and then once they're in prison what they had this criminal record we borrow them from this democracy that we had they're not allowed to vote they are barred.

[3:48] Others down.

David Torcivia:

[3:49] And of course these populations that are most impacted by these policies are by and large by huge majority minorities and of those minorities primarily African-Americans but this is nothing new.

Nothing New [4:01] This is been going on at this point for well over a century and has its roots with the end of slavery in the United States.

Daniel Forkner:

[4:08] Yes and let's look at this for a minute David because this is something we are taught and Pub.

[4:19] Modern era where that type of exploitation ended but that's not what we find when we actually look at history because immediately following emancipation. We have 4 million slaves that were suddenly free across the United States, but as a result the cotton industry the engine of the Southern economy was in crisis and white Southerners were not content to Simply let their labor walk away, in the most important economic regions of the South up to half of all Capital & Investment was in the form of human labor black human labor not surprisingly Gears of economic ruin loomed large if this wealth was lot and what we think of the American South before the 20th century, it's easy to picture the plantation owners and their.

[5:14] Titian from their newly freed neighbors that was exploited by politicians and businessman. You wanted to ensure that poor whites did not find a common Ally and poor blacks to resist the exploitation levied against both of them. So Bradley white Southerners fear two things one that the newly freed blacks would use their freedom to seek revenge against their old slave owners and to that the economy would suffer from a lack of cheap labor.

David Torcivia:

[5:44] And I won't interrupt you real quick here Daniel because I don't want to completely excuse the Northerners for their participation in this process as well, because while we blame a lot of what we're about to talk about on the southerners and I mean they were guilty as the slaveholders of this time. But that didn't prevent wealthy white Northerners from coming into the South and purchasing up so much of this distressed land buying it plantations factories things that weren't profitable anymore with the loss of slave labor in becoming the owners of huge swaths. Southern territories and then of course well they still need labor to make these things profitable until they turned exploiting the labor of these newly freed black slaves most of their poor white counterparts was only found their value much diminished now that there was so much more labor available to these wealthy land.

Daniel Forkner:

[6:31] Good point David so how did this all come about will around 1874 a wave of new laws throughout Southern States and local counties came onto the scene that effectively made it a crime to be black these laws did not necessarily explicitly Target black people in the legal language. But everyone knew the purpose of these laws was to selectively enforce them vague laws that criminalize vagrancy, made it possible for an officer to arrest pretty much any black person on the street who could not immediately prove in that moment that they were employed somewhere other laws made it a crime for a farmer to walk alongside a railroad it was a crime to speak too loudly in the presence of white women it was a crime to sell crops after Dark Alabama North Carolina and Florida made it a crime to change employers without permission.

David Torcivia:

[7:22] What's funny to about some of these lost that many of them are still on the books and actively enforced I mean I've had friends arrested for walking along railroads that's something that still exist, many municipalities have laws against vagrancy laws targeting homeless people if you don't have an address in some places you can be fined for $1,000, for being homeless basically so I'm eating these ideas and Concepts haven't gone anywhere they're very still much on the books and being actively enforced by police departments around the country today.

Daniel Forkner:

[7:51] The Legacy continues date. And ultimately these laws existed they were created to put black people in their place which was long-term prison sentences, where they could be forced to work once again and what became a profitable arrangement for the government and local business. And so this was an interesting Arrangement the state would charge companies a fee to rent criminals by the month and the fee would change depending on the individual prisoner which at that point you might as well have put prisoners on auction blocks and this became known as the convict lease system any business could rent prisoners and do with them anything they please. Prisoners who had just turned their freedom from the cotton Plantation suddenly found themselves Bound by chains and wit in mines factories and other businesses where they might chop Lumber make bricks, or lay railroads this system delivered thousands of contacts into coal mines that made Alabama's rapid industrial growth possible.

David Torcivia:

[8:49] So let's look at the numbers to get an idea of scale. So it didn't 1886 this is you know just a few decades after the Emancipation there 15000 prison workers in southern industry and that number grew to over 19,000 just a couple years later. Third of those workers were boys under the age of 16 and I mean it should go without saying but over 90% of these workers or black. And what's really interesting is when you compare these numbers to today from 1812 this war was going on the proportion of black people in US prisons Nationwide was 30% compared to blacks making up just 12% of the total population. So it's competitive today black people today make up 37% of the national prison population despite being just 13% of the total population. And 33% of the national felony convictions are represented by black. These numbers change on the local level and in some cases it's much much worse black people 19% of the population in Virginia that make up over 58% of prisoners. Overall black people comprise a higher proportion of prisoners in the u.s. today than they did in the late 1800s while slavery was still very much a present memory in the mines and everyone and as we'll see these numbers aren't the only thing that hasn't changed.

Daniel Forkner:

[10:06] That's crazy David it's insane to think that we're putting a higher proportion of black people in prisons today then we were when this convict lease system was going on to fulfill these jobs that were vacated by slaves, edit many ways conditions under that convict lease system where worse than slavery in southern cotton plantations. On our two-part series on slavery we go in death on some of the modern slave operations worldwide today and part of what has made slavery so brutal around the world is the Expendable low-cost nature of exploding people in our modern economy, in the American South before emancipation a single slave might cost $40,000 in today's value a serious investment that a slave owner would not simply waste. Under the convict lease system however human beings could be rented for a few dollars a month and worked much harder and some labor camps in Alabama convict populations died at a rate of 32 40% per year.

David Torcivia:

[11:08] Also a concept we touch down in part 2 of our episodes in slavery is that the wave labor practices became normalize within an industry, which then become standardized and almost impossible to alter. Will because the convict lease system provided such a cheap and Expendable labor business owners could drive wages down across the board or paid workers as well and use this power as leverage to block Union another worker rights organizations from Foreman this is what we're talking about Wendy's impacted be poor, lightworkers of the South as well prison labor gives businesses the ability to Farm Workers everywhere and it's continues today.

Daniel Forkner:

[11:43] David let's take a step back from this prison labor and just look at the numbers for the general prison population in the United States and some ways that compared to other incarceration rates around the world.

Prisons In America Today

David Torcivia:

[11:56] Yeah this is especially important because I think really it needs to be stated several times throughout this episode but the United States is a prison Nation.

Daniel Forkner:

[12:05] Well we like to be number 1 David I mean with Works in it to something.

David Torcivia:

[12:09] I'm going to do it well.

Daniel Forkner:

[12:10] We're going to make sure we're going to be at the top of the game and when it comes to prison.

David Torcivia:

[12:14] Number one.

Daniel Forkner:

[12:15] Yeah when it comes to prison well let's just say we knocked this one right out of the park. We have close to 7 million people in the correctional system which includes probation and a little over two million people behind bars in 2015 worldwide there were 10 million people behind bars meaning that the US represents 20% of the entire global population of inmates. That's 20% despite having around four and a half percent of the global population.

David Torcivia:

[12:44] And so let me know as you would expect our per capita incarceration rate is similarly off-the-chart too close to 700 people per 100,000 locked up. This incarceration rate put this way above any other country in the world if your rank among countries and neck ties countries in order or El Salvador Turkmenistan Cuba Thailand Rwanda and Russia. Actor that Panama Costa Rica and Brazil and if you would have break United States. In two separate states and include them on this list in in in like a note here's Georgia here's California incarceration rate the top four places in the world, Oklahoma Louisiana Mississippi and Georgia all being around 1,000 people incarcerated from 100,000 residents.

Daniel Forkner:

[13:31] And David there are 31 US states with per capita incarceration rates higher than the very first country on that list El Salvador.

David Torcivia:

[13:40] So that means just to break it down one more time because I miss dad is so crazy. There 31 states in America that have the number one to 31st highest incarceration rates in the entire world. And we had to go all the way down to number 32 to get to any place on this planet that has a higher incarceration rate than just individual states within this country and that's El Salvador we love prison.

Daniel Forkner:

[14:06] Another visual for you David as some have pointed out at the height of Stalin's Gulag system in the Soviet Union. The ratio of people within the gulag system still Falls below the ratio of the u.s. population in jail or prison in 2008. But you know what let's look at how these incarceration rates differ once you start looking at race and class because this is where things really start to go off the charts are you ready for this. So as we've established while the United States dance miles above any other country on the planet in terms of people behind bars. That 700 people per 100,000 will for black people that ratio is over 2400. For Latinos at over 1,000 black youths are incarcerated five times more than white kids and if you look at the data for black men just between the ages of 20 and 39. Would you like to take a guess David what that incarceration rate might be.

David Torcivia:

[15:02] I mean I'm sure it's high we said the reach overall for Black people's 2400 so I'm going to guess maybe like double that so like 4800 / 100,000.

Daniel Forkner:

[15:13] Not even close David it's 10000 / 100,000 Note 4 comparison.

[15:42] The crimes of black people commit in fact if there is a difference we find it actually skews towards white people white people purchase and use marijuana more often than black people yet black people are incarcerated at multiple times higher than white people for the same crime.

David Torcivia:

[15:57] These numbers are absolutely mind-boggling.

Prison Labor Today [16:00] These are greater numbers than existed after the fall of slavery when half the country was still in the mindset that is okay to own black people, and then we moved to locking them up instead and we're locking up more people proportionally now than we were back when people said is okay to own people that's how crazy this prison system has become hot out of control it's gotten. We look back at where this all started I mean it with the labor the fear of the loss of Labor because of the loss of this institution of slavery is what motivated these laws in the introduction of everything that built this system today. Exploitation because of Labor has continued through today as well.

Daniel Forkner:

[16:35] It has continued it's been going on for a long time now and in fact it appears that wages have been falling for prisoners over the.

[16:48] Any three sets today is just $0.86. And that's per day that's the minimum and the average maximum daily wage across the country is just $3.45. While these numbers seem low I mean who wants to work washing dishes for $0.86 a day what the reality is actually much much worse because these are just the wages paid before deductions many inmates have their wages slashed up to 50% for fees and expenses related to their incarceration it's like oh thank you for doing all this unpaid work but we're also going to charge you money because of the administrative cost of housing you or whatever other BS they can make up.

David Torcivia:

[17:26] Daniel as bad as that is you guessed it it's still even worse than that because prisons have complete monopolies on the good soldier prisoners and is good are subject to unbelievable.

[17:43] Constant work to for a $10 phone card if you are woman in Colorado if it took you two weeks just to afford a box of tampons. And yes that's right tampons aren't provided so this is something we will absolutely come back to both later on in this episode and future episode because these prison abuses are so large this is the start of a series and we have so many things that we want to touch on this is really more of an overview episode but I mean the fact that a prisoner even has to buy their own tampons in the first place is insane and right now we're just going to stick to jobs for this moment and there's a lot of riding the types of jobs and inmate might work, are the ones that get the most attention involve private companies producing products for sale to consumers or Institution.

Daniel Forkner:

[18:27] Starbucks David has to use inmates to package coffee Victoria's Secret has use inmates to sew lingerie and inmates have been used in call centers for numerous companies like spread.

David Torcivia:

[18:40] And even the companies that you think are out there doing good work places like all foods well yep a lot of their stuff is also contributed by prison labor.

Daniel Forkner:

[18:50] In Nevada you may be surprised to know that the casino industry has relied on Prison labor for years on everything from the stained glass and luxurious casinos mattresses in Resorts and hotels chairs and other furniture for offices and clothing for retailers to sell to Taurus. Nevada is actually an interesting case as well because the Nevada Department of Corrections has four years hidden contracts at made with businesses from the state and even allowed companies to use prison labor secretly without paying taxes wages and other fees that ended up as debt for the state of Nevada. It's really strange and much of the secrecy was uncovered as a result of other businesses complaining that prison labor resulted in unfair competition and packing their bottom line.

David Torcivia:

[19:37] In addition inmates are used to fulfill government contracts for everything from road signs to Body On Me. Keep on yourself locked up in Louisiana your labor might be on the farm event Kentucky you might sell cattle. The total value of Labor provided by these prison inmates is estimated that over 1 billion dollars annually. Real quick also looking through these things that inmates make what are the weird things that made me feel weird reading about it was like how much they make things for colleges like a lot of the furniture and my beds in dorms and things are made by prisoners, and for some reason that made me feel really weird more than a lot of the things they produce seems like really extra dirty.

Daniel Forkner:

[20:16] Like here make some products that are furthering someone's education which you're not allowed to ever have.

David Torcivia:

[20:21] Yeah it's like building something to somebody can like to see the best future while somebody else's features like actively being destroyed in the process, I don't have like a concrete reason for it but it made me feel weird, but let's check out some of these product and let's see how this labor is actually marketed so you can actually go online to unicorn. Gov you and I Cor. Govt, and this is a website that is marketing this prison labor so if you are looking to get somebody to produce something for you you can go here and you can contact the prison to produce products for you and your company if you are a company that needs to order things in bulk you can already look on here and see all sorts of products and services so like cook around here who they have a section for energy-efficient in green products of cooked on that I can get nice prisoner made solar panels because I'm going to save the Earth with prison labor which also feels sort of weird.

Daniel Forkner:

[21:14] Just so we understand the legal name of this company is federal prison Industries Incorporated but the trade name is unicor I guess or.

David Torcivia:

[21:23] Write this word a mask that idea where this labor is coming when you look on the box and it's so funny to date the advertise consoling this website how you can say that if you contract products made through unicorn you can put that made in America sticker on your thing so everybody knows that you're being a good guy taking care of American labor not Outsourcing it to overseas when really you're just using $0.86 a day prison labor to produce these products which is way more fucked up in a sweatshop somewhere else.

Daniel Forkner:

[21:51] Let's see why by unicorn this is on their webpage social value your purchases generate lasting societal benefits, a reduction in government spending the viability and health of our communities improved Public Safety simply put it's the right thing to do. Oh David they also have a marketing video with the intercept posted online so we're going to try and include that on our website so everyone can see the type of marketing copy they put out there for businesses, in the form of videos where they actually are showing one of the call centers that a business contract with them for that's a bunch of women in prison.

[22:36] Monitor them to make sure that you're getting the best value for your money in but don't worry you can also feel good because these inmates are learning how to communicate this is crazy will put that on the website.

David Torcivia:

[22:46] They have a fact or fiction section of the website to to like disabilities awful rumors that are about unicorn in prison made products and it has a Jim's like this fiction the prison Industries hurt business and industry by cutting into their profits. Federal prison industries does more to help the private sector than her. This is not a business it is a correctional program it sells its products primarily to the federal government it does limited advertising and focuses primarily on labor-intensive activities in order to provide more inmates with skills and work experience. The real product that federal prison Industries turns out is a productive citizen who can return to.

[23:30] Have gained that doesn't make you feel good then I don't know what to tell you do you think they do podcast editing.

Daniel Forkner:

[23:38] I love unicorns you know they're really not so bad baby.

David Torcivia:

[23:40] This episode brought to you by federal prison Industries.

Daniel Forkner:

[23:46] And David this is just the tip of the iceberg because, most of the value of prison labor does not come from these types of products that are being made or services that are contracted out to businesses it comes from the fact that prisons themselves are operated almost entirely by prison labor the food that inmates eat the cleaning of toilets cutting of hair laundry floor scrubbing all of these essential services are carried out by inmates who are pay pennies on the hour allowing the corporations and agencies that oversee these prison.

[24:26] Locked up an immigration detention facilities around the country, there are several lawsuits ongoing right now against several immigration detention facilities involving both Geo Group and core Civic. The two largest private companies that contract with ice and he's lawsuits allege that human trafficking laws are being violated in these facilities. People awaiting processing or some form of Trials were held in these places are deprived of basic necessities food toilet paper toothbrushes and then they are effectively forced to work for less than a dollar a day sometimes up to $4 in order to buy these things for high prices at the commissary those who refuse to work are threatened with criminal charges and solitary confinement, these conditions have prompted five Senators to write a letter to the Department of Homeland Security in protest.

David Torcivia:

[25:17] And real quick I think a lot of attention prisons get is focused on this labor exploitation and it really is a horribly fucked up rap. But the there's so much more to the larger prison story in the problems that go on here and we'll get into some of these later on this episode I'm in the future episodes we really don't want him to tell this but the media spent a lot of time talking about prison solely from this labor perspective but there are so many different angles I'm just why is systems are so bad for the people involved in them and those of us on the outside we really don't want under sell that. I mean this labor stuff is just so disgusting and maybe it's because we can relate to this as people who work, or living I mean we are forced to work and so try to imagine what life is like on the inside of these prisons is difficult, we only have media that typically is from police perspectives and so this is a way that we can connect with the people inside because we know what it's like to feel exploited at our jobs be taken advantage of and so when we see this happening on an even grosser scale Within These prisons I think that at least for me I give myself a real connection to the struggles that are happening inside.

Daniel Forkner:

[26:22] David this might be a great time then to introduce Our Guest who is going to elaborate a little bit on some of the issues that go beyond just us prison labor and that just for today is Will Adams he works with. Oakland chapter of the incarcerated workers organizing committee which is a part of the industrial workers of the world so without further Ado let's introduce will Adam.

Will Adams:

[26:44] Hi there guys.

David Torcivia:

[26:47] Hey will this is David over here.

Daniel Forkner:

[26:49] Thank you so much for willing to take some time to talk about this very important issue with us.

Will Adams:

[26:54] Totally yeah thank you for talking about it on your show.

David Torcivia:

[26:57] Will if we could just get an introduction of who you are for the listeners and that what the IWC is.

Will Adams:

[27:03] I will I'm a member of I walk Oakland I've been working with the chapter for about 2 years now. I got involved just a little bit after the 2016 strike, I see prisons and the prison industrial complex in the criminal justice system as the stage and big businesses are just like those in power sort of like maintain control over the working class and over communities of color.

What Sparked The Strike?

Daniel Forkner:

[27:43] So how did this particular prison strike come about was it organized directly through this relationship between I walk in prisoners is this something that was initiated by inmates themselves what does that look like.

Will Adams:

[27:54] Yeah yeah so this track is only self organized by the prisoners been felt actually like a very long history of, prison in organizing writers like a prisoners movement in this country you sort of track a like New Wave that's what it started in around 2010 2009-2011 when prisoner started engaging in life and hunger strikes and like directly targeting facilities. This strike was called by a coalition of inside organizations that it's a coalition like across really intense religious and racial and political lines right you can look at the demands which maybe we can talk about in a second all to take on the prison system specifically.

[28:53] And the strike in particular was called because there was a

Forced Riots [28:58] I'm driving I guess you could call it that occurred at Lee Correctional Facility in South Carolina that is just like, 7 people lost their lives during the uprising and give a little background on it right prisons particularly in places where there's maybe like one guard for like 35 or 50 is by pitting them against each other or gladiator fight normally different groups that are hostile to each other in separate right but when, needs to exert increased control over these organizations over these groups of people like gangs but really they're just like the people bending together for survival who refused to comply with prison officials, able to take these groups of people and put them in the same spot of the same yard and basically said go get your man right. In this specific incident at Lee they did that accept the guards lock the door behind them.

[30:20] Normally I'll fights in prison last 5 minutes 15 minutes before it gets broken up.

Daniel Forkner:

[30:27] This is a normal thing that happens.

Will Adams:

[30:29] Yeah but not what happened that leave right because this fight lasted for eight hours people bought to exhaustion. The facility at Lee Isbell decrepit that the cell doors within the two specific Bells, does the locks are broken right so folks couldn't even hide in their cell and people were calling for help from the guards and the guards just ignore them, eventually the weapons came out and people started bleeding and the guys continue to ignore them and so people started dragging bodies like people who are still alive but bleeding out to the gate and the guys still ignore them, and they let it go on for 8 hours and all seven people who died I had blood loss right. And 7 is the official number we're pretty sure that the guys answered people to up their wings or other facilities.

David Torcivia:

[31:27] Yeah don't let them be called to see somewhere else.

Will Adams:

[31:30] And in the aftermath of this event the media only spoke with the prison official about what happened right now on the prison official said oh yeah this is just Gang Related violence and it's because of cell phone but in this loaded like Twisted irony like we only know what happened because someone with their cell phone took a video of the Carnage and sent it to other inside activists pan organizers right other incarcerated organizers this atrocity and. The people who caused the strike like new people at that facility and the intention of inside leadership was actually 2, hold off on a national action until 2019 but in the face of just touch audio brutality, they thought they had to do something now so that's why I said.

Daniel Forkner:

[32:24] When people probably hear something like this on mainstream media and it's framed in terms of all of this was Prisoner on prisoner gang related you know I think people are more likely to write it off and say why are we protesting something that was initiated by the prisoners themselves but this is such a clear example of how the system of mass incarceration creates this violent we're going to read or at least post the demands of the strike on our website or on this episode but what do you think are some of the most important issues that need to be addressed as part of the strike and going forward.

All Demands Matter

Will Adams:

[32:54] Show all of the demands are important and it's really important that attention be paid to all of them I think the mainstream media right like the the media coverage of the strike I don't think there's a major media outlet that hasn't covered it at this point which is just like a complete turnaround from 2016 from the national strike that occurred in 2016 where we were struggling just to like get anybody to cover it at all. One of the issues occurred with the mainstream media covering it is that a lot of outlets have latched onto just a specific II demand the demand to end slavery and that people should be paid the prevailing wage.

David Torcivia:

[33:35] Yeah and it's always weirdly accompanied with this like oh but look at the Constitution did this is legal sort of conversation and then instead of even addressing the the prison strike or the or the things going on the prison they spend the next five minutes talking about the constitutionality. Prison labor and then the story ends and it's like what this was totally missing.

Will Adams:

[33:54] Exactly. Demand is the second demand for a reason right it's super important. But it's also important to point out that there's 10 demands they're all important and. While the prisoners are are like referring to slavery in the specific sense of, labor in that demand when people inside talk about prison slavery talking about a much broader sense of prison slavery in so far as like a complete. And total like dehumanization and education of human beings to the point where they are basically treated like an animal, and this is something that is inherent to our our prison system and, demands as a whole address that a bit Spurs Humanity in the face of Justice like butter brutality. Benefits also in front of right that like about prisons don't exist as a way to like extract value from prisoners, Western half of prisoners have jobs and the number of prisoners to do work most of the work that gets done in prisons is actually just like maintaining the facility itself.

[35:10] Prisons couldn't function without prison labor very important. But again going back to like the national media coverage right like there's this tendency to focus on my phone like these private Corporation it's actually like a pretty small chunk of the Laker that gets done in prisons is for a few companies and then corporations would find ways to lower their bottom line by exploiting play Blazer. But that's not like why prisons exist, and I think that's an important thing to point out and I think that that is something that taking the demands as a whole gestures to.

David Torcivia:

[36:00] Yeah absolutely we were actually talking about this earlier how seems the only coverage that media is interested in doing in terms of Prisons not just in terms of the strike right now but over the preceding years is a private prisons and labor in prisons and there's no interested in any of these other topics or any of these other mini demands libertalia prisons I mean how much meat is still jokes about how awful prisons are and then the rape in it thinks it occur in it and I mean maybe it's because people who aren't in the larger prison system you don't have experience with it can identify with labor and they can identify with abusive Corporation so that's why they're mine goes to that and identifying with the brutality that occurs is the amazing world of bars it's hard to understand when the only things you have our media depictions of that and most of those media depictions are cop shows things like Law and Order that showed not from the perspective of a prisoner but very much from the opposite side.

Will Adams:

[37:04] Asking to be recognized as humans and asking for access to Fresh Air to be able to to go outside they're asking for Sunshine and 4 metal plate are not be welded over their windows for air conditioning or right. Prisons in California that in the summertime will get up to 110 115 degrees inside and sometimes books humming brakes and the officials don't care and then in the winter time they will get down so you know 30-40 degrees and there's no heat and access to like one blankets and stuff like not having. Shards of glass in your food or not having human blood in your food or feces or like.

David Torcivia:

[37:55] Rat poison like we had here in Rikers.

Will Adams:

[37:56] Yeah exactly or just like really just like access to Edibles you food because the food like the lights nutraloaf is the prime example of where it's the start of dry bricks that is you have to make yourself eat it, or just like you don't access to Rehabilitation right, or access to law libraries where you're not eating change while you're reading the books and where the book is exchanged for a wall with like a metal cage in between so yeah.

David Torcivia:

[38:29] What can people who aren't Within These systems do because so much of prison work is about inside and outside

What Can We Do On The Outside? [38:36] and I mean the prisoners are absolutely doing their part with the organization of this strike right now and it's incredible that they've been able to organize this while being incarcerated especially nationally and some of that is because of people outside and a lot of it is it due and credit is due to their prisoners inside look for people who aren't directly connected with this how can we help.

Will Adams:

[38:54] Oh yeah I mean there's so much you can do right as far as like the strike is concerned like right now specifically and in the upcoming months just reading the message of this track sharing the demands on social media sharing articles about the Stray and then participating in our phones at actions and the phone tap is basically where, we have tons and tons of people call a facility that is retaliating against to take these actions like literally and, we've already seen people being sentenced by like internal review boards to like a year-and-a-half in solitary confinement get transferred away from their family and friends so that they can.

[39:47] Visitors don't we do these apps to these facilities that are retaliating against the fence because essentially blowing up their phone and shutting down their phone lines makes a real impact and we've had success with it in the past because prisons essentially like require darkness in order to operate they're not used to public scrutiny right there's a reason why prisons are built way out in the middle of nowhere and and also just because the people who run prisons are like, essentially boring bureaucrat to keep to be reminded that they actually work in a prison right that their job is to like brutalize these people.

[40:29] And then also pissing on phone, so we feel dozens of calls and we always need more people to participate in those both during the strike and after, you can connect with a local organization that does a bunch popping up, but as we speak but there's also other organizations that is black and pink going to name right now that do work to support prisoners then like engage with them directly and that's that is really like the thing that people can really do that will be of the most help with your right to people right because. Prison is incredibly isolating and dehumanizing someone from the outside just like right to you if I catch people, through their time or calling them or or visiting them building relationships over the walls is how you're going to build power together, to hopefully you know what eventually abolish prisons or at least you know depending on where you are make significant changed but, building power together.

[41:53] And then we also have a fundraiser that it's been approved by the inside strike leadership for the main organizations that are supporting the strike who are essentially just like burning cash right now. Spell donations are very important for us to continue to be able to do this where.

[42:11] This isn't the end of the prisoners will go on for as long as it will it might end on the 9th it might continue on where is going to continue for a long time because these people they need our continued support is going to continue onward and continue fighting and that needs to be continued just ordered from the outside.

Daniel Forkner:

[42:36] Will post that on the website for sure.

Language [42:38] Well I want to ask you we Mission media and the role that plays in shaping our view of prisons and the people inside them in, we have media we have entertainment that depicts people of color Working Class People and others and ways the prejudge them as criminals but we also used language that shapes the way we view people and I'm wondering what are some ways we can change the language we use when discussing people who are incarcerated know without reverting to words like criminal which may only serve to further dehumanize them.

Will Adams:

[43:08] Yes yeah I mean I walked does not recognize. The story of like a Burdick's of the states we don't use words like criminal we don't use words like gang. Because that's just like that is a way for the stage and for the powers-that-be to continue this dehumanize people. It's important to recognize by particularly with the word gang they're just like, banding together for survival and I know this already earlier but, the oppression of prisons and of the state and the word gang goes inside prison and outside right James on the outside of people. And the state uses that were within the context of the legal system to write one of the.

[44:04] You're a brown person from a certain part of town or blocked or your cousin maybe rolls with some people you can automatically be added to a list without you even knowing it that if you are, convicted of a crime by the stage they can add extra time to your sentence, and then once you get inside right back continues to follow you you'll continue to be associated with this gang and continue to be even more than, you might otherwise be right again does Bella like two year olds on these lists and you have tattoos for your cultural identity a lot of those tattoos a lot of that symbology is considered Gang Related and so you are automatically considered to be a part of the tank if you just happen to have a tattoo right side of California prisons I'll text you all the way up to like parole board and you're being paroled like that is something that it's actually against you when all of these random bureaucrats are deciding whether or not you can have your freedom.

Daniel Forkner:

[45:18] You know there's a diversity of people within the system between federal and state prisons men separate from women and now the number of immigration detention centers that have been on the rise are there needs that vary depending on the institution.

Risks Higher For Some

Will Adams:

[45:39] Yes, no I think it's incredibly important to note that life brings me so sad Northwest Detention Facility Who are on hunger strike 200 people had said that they were going to participate but because of the retaliation, buttons and carried out by the state take your kids away. Right yeah so the folks locked up in Immigration detention facilities they have no right. They don't get access the lawyers they don't have like any of the the civil rights that are specifically granted to us even more, so much but even more and so that's definitely something.

David Torcivia:

[46:37] I've got one last question I know it's hard to figure out exactly but is there an idea of how large this movement this action is in terms of numbers both of facilities and animates.

How Large Is This Prison Strike?

Will Adams:

[46:48] Yeah yeah so right now there are if you include Nova Scotia as a state. 12 states that are participating Washington Georgia South Carolina North Carolina California Ohio Colorado Indiana New Mexico Texas and again. There are like 10 facilities that are engaged in work stoppages in South Carolina.

[47:24] I don't have the actual number of facilities, and the number of people participating is also hard to guess just because like it's impossible to know what's happening in these days right both because some of the actions taken by prisoners aren't as bright like a commissary boycott, that's not going to make the local news and the prison officials that we aren't going to, do you like oh yeah people are boycotting commissary but that still like like the Christmas budget is reliant on people buying things from the commissary at these price gouging.

[47:57] $5 for the ramen even with work stoppages and hunger strikes prisons are required to report hunger strikes but only after X number of dollars some of these have no incentive to you. Tell the truth either to people calling in or to the media they're just going to deny that anything is going on and so. You know that hunger strike started in California on the 21st an interesting way it wasn't like your true love on the 21st which I imagine is not something that sounds there is an example of a sort of using a carrot rather than a stick to retaliate, tell in 2016 right we didn't know the full breath. How many people had actually participated in how many facilities until several months after the strike has ended through and finally getting to follow up with people after a communication blackout Square. The fact that we know this many is happening I think that it is probably fairly large.

David Torcivia:

[49:17] Do you have anything you want to add that as we close this out any any thoughts that we missed in that you think are important to the cross.

Will Adams:

[49:23] But I just I just want to say that the overarching goal they definitely don't think about the wardens are going to like sit down after negotiating cable with them, and negotiate weather in which of these demands gets mad or not these other ones the real goals of the strike are right so I trust their struggle into the national Spotlight and she like galvanized themselves as a class, that's a call Steve's tires and just continue to like have this thrust towards focusing on the Real Enemy, and to push to take their place at the table of like outside Liberation movements and speak for themselves. People inside are like a sick of nonprofit van Jones's projects are like tons and tons of other nonprofits basically like puppeting them, policy reforms that aren't actually going to change anything. And they're sick of the media not actually talking to them directly about what's going inside as what happened with leave. And I think that the strike has been in that regard been enormously successful, I'm so progress is being made on all three of those goals even though right there are media Outlets to have interviewed prisoners and then refused to publish their statements because they know that if they give their government name they're going to be sitting in call there like 2 years.

Daniel Forkner:

[50:48] Why would a media Outlet refused to publish that.

David Torcivia:

[50:51] I don't have are happy to list Anonymous sources all the time when it comes to a government official so.

Daniel Forkner:

[50:58] Yeah On The Wall Street Journal.

Will Adams:

[51:00] Yeah but they want to do it when it's pissing your son gets back to this human eyes on the inside, and we definitely seen that happening in the media and it's incredibly indicative.

David Torcivia:

[51:21] But I think it's a great thought to close this out with.

Daniel Forkner:

[51:24] Thank you so much will.

David Torcivia:

[51:25] Yeah I really appreciate it well.

Daniel Forkner:

[51:29] That's such an important interview David and some of the things that will was describing just really blew my mind you know that situation at the Lee Correctional Institution.

David Torcivia:

[51:38] Oh man listen to me that we had both read about what happened there. And not in much death but like I like we read the stories but hearing it just spelled out like that. Disgusting that's the word I keep reaching for so much when we're doing this episode when I'm reading about the things that happened it in some of the stories that we're leaving out because it just frankly like too much. Is it so much of the system is just disgusting.

Daniel Forkner:

[52:03] And this idea that guards are pitting inmates against each other I mean this is a common tactic for those in power as we kind of hinted in the historical intro for this episode this was also a deliberate tactic used by those and.

[52:35] Adding fuel to the racism going on at the time and in racism it's not a natural and an inequality among people it's has to be fabricated that's exactly what was going on in, we see the legacy of that today as we continue to put disproportionately people of color Behind Bars and what are we putting them behind bars for.

David Torcivia:

[52:55] And I mean to be fair there are violent accident committed throughout this country from one person to another but the vast majority of people who end up incarcerated and within this system are non-violent offenders and they're there for crimes that really have no victim what's so interesting to I mean there are people in this country to all of us really that benefit from horrible crimes that are committed overseas in our names, Medora to produce products and stuff but we don't end up facing any sort of Retribution for this but somebody who gets caught. With the wrong drug at the wrong time ends up with their life destroyed when they're not hurting anyone at all in the system.

Daniel Forkner:

[53:30] Right and even for some of these violent crimes that do land people in prison that someone say is Justified I think we'll brought up a very important point which is the demand for an end to prison slavery is not so much about the labor as it is a general mistreatment A system that views the people within it as subhuman and I think that's something that simply doesn't fit the vast majority of the crimes committed and, you know speaking about the disproportion of people of color behind bars look David I thought we'd before I've been publicly drunk before. And if I was hungry because my community was robbed of resources I would steal from Walmart in a heartbeat. I've done things and I would do things that if I were a black man or black woman at the wrong place at the wrong time. Not even the wrong place but just a normal place by would be in a cage right now maybe for the rest of my life and I would be treated like a subhuman. Important for us to recognize that so many of these quote-unquote crimes of people are incarcerated for. Maybe wouldn't be considered crimes if they were committed by people from a different section of society.

David Torcivia:

[54:36] Which case I guess the crime at that point becomes being from the wrong group of people.

Daniel Forkner:

[54:41] Just like we saw immediately following emancipation and you know another thing that really stuck out to me David about this interview is when will mention that people are punished. Participating in the strike for things like work stoppages but even things like participating in a hunger strike did he say that one person was committed to solitary confinement for a year-and-a-half.

David Torcivia:

[55:02] Daniel like I mentioned in this interview that's so much of the media focus on prisons and especially about a labor and prison to space on the constitutionality of this thing. That's not the right way to look at this. It shouldn't matter if it's constitutional to allow slave labor to occur because it's going to prison that is so far misses the point just because some piece of paper says it's horribly incorrect being. Is okay doesn't mean that we should be like oh yeah okay it's cool it's bits doing let's argue about whether it's legal or not instead of whether it's moral or ethical. I mean from the more perspective there is no reason to allow slave labor to occur. In discussion there is no.

[55:44] Slavery should be the end of this and the Very fact that we have to debate this at all because it's in this stupid piece of paper to call me question all the rest that is contained in this paper because it's built on incorrect Foundation. Similarly I mean we have guarantees against cruel and unusual punishment, but those words in practice are meaningless if we're allowed to physically torture people and things that the rest of the world agrees is in back Porter is he human right abuse what is 10 as a common way of punishing people in our prison system, we're so far beyond the questions of legality and just lost our morals and ideas of what's good in this process it's disgusting.

[56:18] I mean I can't even believe we're having this conversation that we have to bring this issue to light. It's not okay to torture people like that is the end of this thing it doesn't have to be any more difficult than that and solitary confinement is torture. The conditions of these prisons that are torture making people sick in Bard spells with the temperature routinely climbs 110° hundred twenty degrees in the summer because there's no air conditioning that is torture. Making people wake up at 4 in the morning turning lights on at that point because some study found that inmates are more docile if you keep the lights on all day that is Porter. Making sure people only have enough nutrients just a barely survived to make them too weak to be able to act up that is torture.

[56:59] Making inmates living conditions where the temperature routinely get down to 34 degrees in the winter because there is no heat that is torture, our prison system is built on the idea of torture in order to control these people. Nordic keep them from acting out and resisting and when they do resist when they find the strength to stop and say I can't take this anymore I'm going to do something I'm going to do something in a way that doesn't hurt anybody but myself like a hunger strike and then we punish them further because of that. Meb systems cannot be saved there is no more form available for prison that is built on ideas and torture, and we need to start looking at Alternatives it would just maybe a lot of conversations in for future episodes and something later on this show but I mean I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm getting worked up here but is this is so disgusting, and there's so many people that are caught up in these things people that I know they've been affected I'm a done deal support outside of Prisons before it's disgusting.

Daniel Forkner:

[57:52] No better word for it David and maybe we should shift gears for a second because punishment is one of the reasons.

Benefits Of Labor? [58:00] We say we need prisons to deter people from committing crimes and then we punish them like you're you're talking about but another thing that is supposed to come along with this prison system. Is Rehabilitation. Some people will point to evidence that this prison labor is effectively slavery can help raise the likelihood that a person will land a job.

[58:42] Will somebody from their home their family their community and their life and we lock them in a cage and force them to work for free. We're supposed to feel justified in this practice because they would rather so a shirt or dig a hole and sit in solitary confinement. We're supposed to be proud of ourselves for the fact that after release they can finally be paid for the labor they've been doing for free for years and system that ripped them from any meaningful life they might have had and in that episode what we talked about wildfires Up In Smoke, sometimes they don't even get the same job so they've been working like those California prison firefighters men and women who are trained, the same way that regular firefighters are they go out into the environment to fight some of the most dangerous natural phenomenon we have for $2 an hour, and if they survive and they serve their time a lot of them remember are not even violent offenders these are people that just found themselves behind bars for whatever bulshit reason they can't even get a firefighter job because of their criminal history. So we see a huge contradictions in this idea that doing this prison labor can even result in jobs after incarceration but but we can even get a better picture when we look at the actual numbers on overall unemployment for formerly incarcerated people. Right now people in the US who were behind bars are unemployed at a rate that is 5 times higher than the overall unemployment rate, and at 27% that's higher than the historical unemployment rate for any period in US history.

[1:00:08] At the same time formerly incarcerated people are more active in the search for jobs than the general population suggesting that they're trying harder than anyone else to actually find meaningful employment, and just like everything of course this unemployment rate changes depending on race and gender, so we can't simply explain this by some inherent fly that incarcerated people must have white men have the lowest level of unemployment following jail time at 14%. And black women are the most discriminated group with the highest rate of unemployment at 43%, when they do find jobs after release these jobs are more likely to be part-time than for any other group.

David Torcivia:

[1:00:52] I mean Daniel I don't want to, step on the idea that working is a good transition for inmates at and I think in an ideal scenario giving inmates skills and jobs and stare pay for their work or the value that they generate from that work is a great idea. But it's just the way the system is implemented is so gross and with such messed up incentives it it really tears away from whatever positive benefits you can receive from this. The fact that inmates are paid so little horribly wrong especially when they're charged so much for the commissary. The way that phones and video calls are getting more and more expensive in order to dream whatever little amount of money they're able to generate in the first place, the way that a lot of inmates are coerced into this work with Air Force do it I mean they they say that this is a voluntary thing and it made is not forced to work like this but from any of the other option is, what are you don't have to do this but you also can have solitary confinement or you will lose your yard privileges or ability to purchase things from the commissary and there is no choice for a lot of them and they're forced into these very low paying exploitative labor often times that run the prisons in the first place and if that's not a way to rehabilitate people. I thought of a way to generate skills with somebody that's a way to force people to profit for you.

[1:02:06] In a perfect world letting inmates work jobs and receive their pay is a great solution it and I also want to qualify that with. We should not ever make inmates pay for their own incarceration because a lot of times this is something that comes up they say will you know we shouldn't pay inmates Bull price for their work, because we're already paying to support them in the first place we have to pay for their living with the pay for their food you know it's a burden on society and they should. I mean they're repairing there will there damage that they already cost Society with their time and they should also maybe monetarily pay is back for the cost that we are all sharing in order to support them but that is so missing the point. Prison should be a burden on everyone including all of us in society we should not want to put people in prison we should not profit off of it. Every single person we lock up ship cost all of us it should hurt us collectively because that pressure is all of us to come together to Sitel in culturally and it's a state to not try and send invite people to commit crimes. Do not introduce laws that lock people up for arbitrary reasons. Prison is a burden for those that we incarcerate and it should be for all of us as well in any scheme that involves prisoners repaying for their time that they lost to the state is wrong if they labor they deserve the full fruits of their labor, the full profits of the products they create just like all workers do.

[1:03:27] And just because they happen to be behind bars while they're doing that labor doesn't mean you're entitled to anything less than the rest of us and similarly it's Justin just end of the labor

Disenfranchisement: Has The Debt Been Paid Or Not? [1:03:36] all of these prisoners they come out and they lost the right to vote their millions of Americans that have been disenfranchised because of often times arbitrarily enforce laws and for many people in states where say marijuana has been legalized these people still cannot vote because they committed crimes that are now legal before that law was passed and they lost so much of their life because of this they cannot participate in the political process anymore because of a law that is gone because of something that they violated that is now legal and people are enjoying recreationally, the fact that we take the ability to write from inmates that there's there's no reason to.

[1:04:11] If anything they should be more involved in our political process because they've seen the ugliest side of it of how it can end and fill you know most accurately if I don't have state is capable of, and if anybody should be out representing us and working towards a better future should be the people who have had the darkest times in our present day. I've also lost many times the ability to gain scholarships, just like the pressure on gainful employment is much more difficult for formerly incarcerated individuals it's very difficult to go back to school to improve yourself to educate yourself into a better person to try and avoid that recidivism, and we take these scholarships he's right away and then maybe some people would suggest if their people who are more deserving of the scholarships because they haven't committed a crime. The prison is supposed to be about paying back what you've done and when you get out of prison you're supposed to have repaid Society because your sentence is supposed to be you you with fresh eyes you're somebody who paid back for the thing that you did that was wrong why do we keep taking stuff away from them at that point it shows that collectively we don't believe this. Tail if we truly believe that serving your time in prison paid back your debt to society, then we would give people back all their rights that come with being a part of society when said we've created a caste system in this country where the people who have been through our prison systems live a second-tier life. With less taxes to work no access to a political system and many of the welfare system is designed to help people get ahead when they been hurt and now I took them isn't crimes are committed in the past and paid for.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:05:36] Like we mentioned at the beginning of this episode is about control but David maybe we should take a step back for a moment because this is a.

Collapse?

David Torcivia:

[1:05:51] We've got plenty of cracks here Daniel.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:05:53] The world through how does this topic relate to the right premise of the show will. Last week we touched on how in equality in society itself is a sign of unsustainable systems and that it's getting worse. In 1960 the wealth of the top 20% of the World by per capita income was 30 times greater than the bottom 20% 35 years later and that top 20% became 82 times richer than the bottom, the reason this is a problem is because the wealthy are becoming richer not So Much by providing some benefit but by transferring wealth from others to their own pocketbooks and this is a destructive process, one example of how this destructive transfer of wealth can occur related to this topic is the way that banks in Rich themselves from police violence, by transferring money from local city budgets and by extension the communities in which police violence occurs. When the police murder someone or frame someone or countless other acts that come about from the need to provide bodies for this mass incarceration system. Sometimes the police will get taken to court and the court will award the victim of settlement in exchange for silence. So let's look at this for a second because this is an incredible thing going on that few people are talking about.

[1:07:10] The action center on race and the economy did a study that looked at settlement and judgment cost from police misconduct. For just 12 cities and counties in the United States and I found some really startling things between 2008 and 2017 these 12 municipalities took on over $830 worth of debt in the form of bonds to pay for settlements and judgments related police activity, not that alone David should tell you how much police misconduct is going if just those cases that actually went to court and won, results of an over 830 million dollars for justice 12 municipalities in the United States.

David Torcivia:

[1:07:50] 830 million dollars is a lot of money Daniel and somebody settlements actually a lot of these elements are really very small, there was one very recently that was a big story in the news where this man, was a wrongfully murdered by police they shot him through his garage door three or four times and went to court the police were found not liable for the murder but they sued for damages and ultimately the jury awarded this man's a widowed wife and his three kids $4. $1 for funeral expenses and $1 for each.

[1:08:34] $4 paid out by the state.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:08:36] I have no response for that David. Let me take this further for you because on top of this eight hundred million dollars worth of debt these cities paid over 1 billion dollars in interest to Banks and investors for a total of close to 1.9 billion dollars which local taxpayers paid. So just for clarity here taxpayers paid over 800 million dollars for the crimes the police committed against them, and then on top of that they paid Wall Street and extra 1 billion dollars to help pay for those Crimes by bringing this back to collapse and the overarching theme of Ashes ashes in episode 5 end of the road we introduced the concept of the death cycle cities can experience as cost start to rapidly outpace Revenue and how looming for natural disasters like the pension crisis that we cover an episode broken promise exacerbate this cycle. Will this police violence debt it acts in the same way. I mean this app out in Connecticut paid close to 10 million dollars for man who spent two decades in prison after being framed for Murder by police. But in order to pay this fine the city got the money by diverting funds they had borrowed to repair a bridge. Many municipalities have raised taxes specifically to cover the cost of police misconduct which can deter new citizens from bringing new Revenue into the city.

David Torcivia:

[1:09:59] There's a city in Arizona that has been caught in one of these debt traps in 1983. Related to an active police violence they currently redirect around 12% of their total general-fund budget. The previous annual Debt Service and have even considered a limiting their fire department to pay it off this might be a good time to point out that the profits that Banks make from these fees and interest that they earn off a debt. Causing cities to raise taxes cut jobs and even consider eliminating fire departments that profit of course goes into our GDP which we've been used to justify having a healthy growing strong economy.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:10:35] There's an episode of Adam Johnson's podcast the appeal episode number 11 where he talks about the way, retailers such as Walmart Lobby for legislation to create harsher sentences for people who shoplift as well as some of the profit-making extortion rackets, but they employ using private secure.

[1:11:01] Space the police and some of the crazy things that go on I highly recommend you listen to that and so similar to this debt trap the police violence catch as many cities Across the Nation open big retailers like Wal-Mart Lobby for legislation that provides is harsher sentencing, and when retailers like Wal-Mart recommend their employees to apply for food stamps all these are cost cutting initiatives that allow companies to capture additional profit. Owen remember David that nothing is actually profitable, it becomes clear that ultimately no costs are cut they are just shifted to the community the wealth of the community is transferred to big company Pockets leaving the people in that Community with less money than they need to survive which incentivizes them to steal food and other essentials from those same retailers, which lands them in the hands of this criminal legal system where judges impose $15,000 fines and long prison sentences for very minor theft sometimes less than $50, and once members of this community are behind bars, even more wealth can be transferred from them through their forced labor through the commissary and by using the love that they have for their family against them, by overcharging them for phone calls and emails who are the real criminals here who are the real thieves.

What Can We Do?

David Torcivia:

[1:12:21] So here we are once more at the end of an episode and all we've done is lay down an overview what is an incredibly corrupt industry across the United States. There's so much more depth that we need to explore here and we will in future episodes but we've already gone longer so much to cover so that brings us instead to the end of this episode, in the question of what can we do with people outside of this system looking in do to help the timing of this episode was important to us because we really wanted to highlight struggles that are going on right now as we see with the currently ongoing prison strike which I mean it's slated to end in just a couple of days officially but these struggles will continue in many of these prisons they strikes will continue.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:13:02] The retaliation for those prisoners who participated will continue long into the future.

David Torcivia:

[1:13:08] And we on the outside can continue to support these struggles of from people who have just Brinkley had too much and I ready for change. We can continue their work by letting people know about the abuses that occur in the system by spreading their demands, by contacting our legislators letting them know that even though we are not in these prison systems and we may not know people needs prison system that we still care about those were trapped inside, we still believe that humans deserving dignity and respect just like the rest of us we can write to prisoners.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:13:38] We can donate to Iowa and you can find a link to Their donation page on our website.

David Torcivia:

[1:13:43] There are a number of organizations that allow you to donate books or other Goods to prisoners so they can avoid the cost of commissary costs. The most important and it really Bears repeating over and over again is to make these struggles hurt, to talk to your friends and family about this world out so many of us only view through the distorted perspective of media and of our favorite cop shows whether it's on Netflix or on prime-time television, these are real people involved in the systems and we need to make their voices heard. Because it only takes one accidental moment but it shifted political wins before many of us find ourselves caught in these systems as well.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:14:19] And David we can imagine a better world but you see so much in these discussions about prison conditions and the systems of mass incarceration, the first response is okay I agree that what we have right now is a little brutal and perhaps goes over the line but come on what are we going to do just let murderers and rapists Run free in our streets, but it doesn't have to be that dramatic we can imagine alternative to the system right now they wouldn't be hard to implement. One of the main reasons why it's so easy for guards and wardens to brutalize these people we sent to prison is because they are out of sight out of mind and like you mentioned David about. The importance for society to Bear the costs of putting someone behind bars we need to have these people closer to us so that we can see and that we can feel the effects of putting someone in a cake. If we as a society decide ultimately, that those who murder another human being deserve to be locked up for time. We can still do that without subjecting that person to a system that reduces them to a subhuman Slave.

[1:15:31] Remain connected to them through our community, to show them that we don't agree with what they've done but that we haven't ostracize them from the world give them a reason to come back into our communities and participate if we're all these non-violent pointless crimes that were sending people behind bars for we can stop doing that. Mills Christie Road at length on incarceration system in a 1996 Aurora. As human beings we are interested in conflicts it's the theme for great authors and for ordinary people, the people no longer participate in such conflicts if we become victims we leave it all up to professionals who are basically Fed Up. Conflict ought to be participated in by Ordinary People but we are just Spectators of crime who now and again try out for more severe punishment but if we come close to the people in prison for punishment we become more.

[1:16:31] Create a monster of a stranger seen only through the media. Speaking of monsters that we only see through media the over-representation of black people in prison Phelps cement in the public mind the association of Blackness with criminality and then to drive that Association even further, policymakers public relations people media and entertainment companies they all use those to tistics to quote on quote prove that black people belong in a subordinate class in society or in prison or that they deserve that sterilization plea deal like we mentioned last week. Or whatever else we want to say to justify our oppression we can put an end to the misrepresentation and by doing so. Come closer to a better future where we all have a place in this world together.

David Torcivia:

[1:17:25] As always that's a lot to think about but think about it we hope you will you can learn more about all these topics read all of our sources as well as a full transcript of this episode on our website at ashes ashes. O RG.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:17:38] A lot of time and research goes into making these episodes possible and we will never use advertising to support the show so if you like it and would like us to keep going you our listener can support us by. Sharing this with a friend and giving us a review, also we have an email address it's contact at ashes ashes. No RG and we encourage you to send us your thoughts positive or negative we read them and we appreciate them, also a listener of the show made a really incredible mix of our sexy voices put a couple tracks behind it and put it out there on the interwebs.

David Torcivia:

[1:18:14] Can you still fucking lame Daniel couple tracks behind it put it on the interwebs what the fuck years it seems like 1994.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:18:22] It's well David it sounds really good I like it I think everyone should listen to it so it will provide that on our website as well for people to check out share with your friends support it support us.

David Torcivia:

[1:18:34] You can also find us on your favorite social media Network at ashes ashes cast we're going to close this episode out with something special reading a list of the demands of the Striking prisoners because we believe that he deserve to be heard.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:18:47] And underneath the sounds is music by the rapper time a listener of the show.

Break The State

David Torcivia:

[1:18:57] These are the demands of the Striking prisoners across the country right now number one immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:19:13] Number to an immediate end to prison slavery all persons in prison and any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.

David Torcivia:

[1:19:26] Number 3 the prison litigation Reform Act must be rescinded allowing in prison humans a proper channel to address Grievances and violations of their rights.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:19:38] Number for the truth in sentencing Act and the sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded for the imprisoned humans have a possibility of Rehabilitation and parole no human Shelby sentence. By incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.

David Torcivia:

[1:19:55] Number 5 in admitted into the racial overcharging over sentencing and parole denials of black and brown humans. Like humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of a crime was white which is a particular problem in Southern States.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:20:11] Number 6 an immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting black and brown human.

David Torcivia:

[1:20:19] Number 7 no imprisoned humans shall be denied access to Rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:20:30] Number 8 state prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.

David Torcivia:

[1:20:37] Number 9 L grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:20:44] Number 10 the voting rights of all can find citizens serving prison sentences pretrial detainees and so-called ex-felons must be counted representation is demanded all voices count.

David Torcivia:

[1:20:58] And until next week this is ashes ashes goodbye.