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Wed, June 19

Letter: Land of the free?

Editor:

The United States of America imprisons more people per capita than any other country in the world. “We, the people” pay for this privatization and have apparently accepted the propaganda that privatization would protect us from the ravages of rampant criminality.

Although the United States represents only 300 million of the worlds 7 billion population we have 2 million people imprisoned in America. Most of them for non-violent crimes.

But, a reasoned analysis of this “phenomena” that began with the Presidency of Ronald Reagan [or at least had its genesis in his rhetoric proclaiming that “government is the problem”] with his insistence that the private sector is so much more capable of doing things than the government, demonstrates that privatization was a misplaced concept that has completely failed to solve or even reduce the problem of “crime” in America.

What did we thing would happen when the profit motive was introduced into our public prison system?

Of course, under capitalism, the profit motive rules supreme [except for corporate welfare] and that factor more than any other single entity has motivated and produced the explosion in the prison population.

The US penal system long ago abandoned any pretense of providing an environment of rehabilitation where prisoners could live in the hope that they might someday be returned to society as productive, co-operative citizens.

The singular purpose of our privatized prison system is to increase the prison population and the expansion of the prison system with the construction of more prisons to produce more profit for the private companies that provide this “service” to America at taxpayer expense.

Prior to privatization, most people would face probation and fines for first offenses and find themselves with an opportunity to overcome their mistakes.

But, now with privatization the prisons bulge to the breaking point with non-violent offenders guilty primarily of drug offenses and other non-violent crimes that increase the profit for these private prisons and their stockholders while doing very little if anything to reduce crime.

We are now experiencing the privatization of our prison system into a corporate [fascist] for-profit prison system that relies heavily upon imprisonment of the citizenry to maximize their prison profiteering.

Such is this brave new world we live in, wherein the criminalization of the citizenry will create a new dynamic in America wherein having been convicted of a crime and imprisoned will become the rule rather than the exception.

This new paradigm will transcend “race” as one of the primary motivating factors for imprisonment and the profit motive will be determinative of the effort to criminalize the general population.

If you want to avoid such a fate, your only choice will be to live in constant, endless fear of being arrested, charged and convicted of “crimes” that originally did not require imprisonment but because of the lobbying by private, corporate prison systems of congress are now reclassified as crimes warranting imprisonment.

Such fear will avail you nothing, of course, and the likelihood of you being arrested and charged with a crime will increase exponentially as corporations [fascist entities] increase their involvement in the private, for profit prison system.

The ramifications and implications of this privatization are truly draconian. However, if Americans continue to elect those whose loyalty is to corporations and the profit motive we will experience an increase in such criminalization of citizens in the name of the profit motive.

The only way to avoid such a fate is reform of our constitutional democracy by amendment of the US Constitution to reflect not only opposition to fascism, but a recommitment to those egalitarian democratic principles that underpin our constitutional republic.

The mechanism exists for such amendment that allows us to circumvent congress and call for amendment of the constitution by three-fourths of the State legislatures to amend the constitution.

Since these legislatures represent our interests and as our representatives are extensions of “we, the people” [taking an oath to uphold and defend the constitution] they are by extension part and parcel of ourselves and if we demand they amend the constitution on our behalf to reflect our egalitarian democratic ideals they are “honor” bound, by law, to act upon our expressed desire to amend the constitution.

Unless, of course, our constitutional democracy is only an illusion. If we no longer live under the auspices of the US Constitution with its Bill of Rights, etc., we should no longer have any expectation that we have any rights left to amend.

Sadly, I think that to be the new reality. Hopefully, I am wrong and America can return to its democratic roots and achieve the egalitarian democracy that so many fought and died for in our War of Independence.

John A. Bond

Cottonwood

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