Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tony's Blog: America For Sale…

…no unreasonable offer refused.

A beautiful young mentee, who is in the process of becoming one of our proud success stories, and her Hall of Fame mentor both offer to make the five hour drive to Central California to visit our boy who is being availed of the hospitality of the State of California prison system. YMC staffer Leslie has been planning to make the same trip with me.

Then the call comes in. “They’re moving me to Oklahoma.” What? How can they do that?

Well, you see he’s not the guest of the state. He’s a commodity, sold to a private corporation. His landlord isn’t the government of the city, county or state whose laws he has been convicted of violating. He is in the custody of a private company called CCA (Correctional Corporation of America).  His prison was built with investments from American Express and General Electric.  His collect calls are a hugely profitable business for AT&T, Sprint, MCI and Correctional Communications Corp., gouging the loved ones of prisoners with rates, often six times the normal long distance charge.  He may become part of an increasing cheap labor pool for corporations. The Correctional Industries Association has estimated that over 30 percent of America's inmate population will labor to create nearly $9 billion in sales for private business interests. They will be paid less than $1.50 per hour (putting downward pressure on hourly wages for other low income Americans).   This is BIG BUSINESS!  Over 2 million people are currently behind bars in the United States. This represents the highest per capita incarceration rate for any country in the history of the world.

All a part of a long-standing movement to corporatize every social institution in America. If there is not a profit to be made then it can’t be American.  This kind of thinking has so corrupted our view of what America is all about that Tea Party candidate Rand Paul recently called Pres. Obama "un-American" for threatening to keep the pressure on BP (British Petroleum) to clean up the horrendous catastrophe they caused in the gulf.  God forbid that our politicians put the public interest ahead of corporate profits.
Keep your eyes peeled for any public crisis and then follow the money. Politicians are all too happy to sell every social institution (and the protections that go with them) to their closest crony.  After they leave office the politician will then consult for hefty fees, become a lobbyist or go to work for said crony . Look at New Orleans after Katrina.  Public transportation, public housing, the public school system and waste removal were all sold off (more like gifted) to cronies of Bush and Cheney - companies like KBR (subsidiary of Cheney’s Haliburton).
So too the prison system of the State of California is now operated with a profit motive. If rehabilitation ever was a goal it certainly will have to take a back seat to profitability now. Hmmm. Companies become more profitable by increasing business through return customers. There is now a profit incentive in recidivism and increased sentence time.  
If CCR, which operates in several states, decides it is more efficient to warehouse our boy in Oklahoma, that’s where he will go. So that some private corporation can make a profit, we are not able to visit our young man who needs support to keep his promise to turn his life around and do his time well.

But we will find other ways to support this young man because that's what we do.  A letter writing campaign is under way.  If you know who I'm talking about and would like to participate, let me know.  We're also sending him books and sending our prayers.  I am determined that he will come back to us, never to return to that kind of corporation again.



Tony LoRe
Youth Mentoring Connection/Urban Oasis

Boarding House Mentors

PS Read "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein for a historical and comprehensive elucidation of the corporatization phenomenon in action on the international stage.

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