Aside from the sheer scale of Imagining Freedom, what sets the initiative apart is its focus on tangible outcomes rather than performative conversation around reform. Intent on normalizing people and communities impacted by incarceration as leaders and cultural contributors, this initiative puts money directly into the pockets of those historically passed over as agents in their own lives and consequently excluded from funding. By centering art in its funding, Imagining Freedom is prioritizing financial and creative autonomy for its grantees in tandem. The former is necessary given the system’s intent on economically repressing communities and individuals impacted by incarceration; the latter integral to rejecting what has been historically ingrained in us as a just system.
Prisoners across the country are set to launch a nationwide strike today to demand improved living conditions, greater access to resources and the “end of modern day slavery.” Prisoners in at least 17 states are expected to participate in the coordinated sit-ins, hunger strikes, work stoppages and commissary boycotts from today until September 9—the 47th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising. For more, we speak with Amani Sawari, a prison strike organizer working on behalf of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, a network of prisoners who are helping organize the nationwide strike. We also speak with Cole Dorsey, a formerly incarcerated member of the IWW’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee who is helping coordinate with prisoners on the prison strike.
Towns in Mississippi and other Tea Party-ruled states with large (often private) prison industries are totally reliant on state/fed funding transfers to local prisons for cash and jobs, forced prison labor to provide local services for free, and War on Drugs arrests and minimum sentencing to fill those jails. The first tiny steps toward criminal justice reform have eroded the underpinnings of the whole system, leaving the towns facing collapse.
Increasing vacancy rates in these prisons mean less revenue (and less free, forced labor), but the counties and towns still have to keep up payments on the bonds they floated to raise the money to build their prisons.
Meanwhile, “fiscally responsible” states run by slash-and-burn Tea Party governors have cut services and transfer payments (except the per-prisoner/per-diem payments), eroding the towns’ infrastructure (see also), leaving the towns in a state of absolute precarity.
(Reuters) – Law enforcement said they were making progress on Saturday ending a disturbance at a federal correctional facility in southern Texas were as many as 2,000 inmates were protesting medical services…
The primary purpose of these prisons, and of the imprisonment of their inmates, is to profit the owners or share holders of the prisons. Fusion.net published an investigative report on this earlier this month:
The U.S. government has quietly created a second-class federal prison system specifically for immigrants. For years the Department of Homeland Security has been known as the agency that houses immigrants awaiting deportation. However, tens of thousands of additional immigrants, most serving sentences for immigration crimes, are held by the Bureau of Prisons each night before being sent back.
And it’s all part of a lucrative business model which has funneled billions of taxpayer dollars into the private prison industry.
A Fusion investigation found that without a single vote in Congress, officials across three administrations: created a new classification of federal prisons only for immigrants; decided that private companies would run the facilities; and filled them by changing immigration enforcement practices.