Capitalism and Incarceration in America; How to Create a Permanent Working Class


Maryam Al`Shahwani

With corruption in the American justice system, incarceration rates are higher than ever, creating a permanent working class. Unfair practices of justice also lead to mass incarceration in black populations.

The US has the highest incarceration rates in the world, and its worse than you think. There is a lot of bias sewn into the practices of the American prison system (as well as the judicial system). Prejudice is prevalent, creating an extremely unfair disadvantage to non-white people, as they tend to receive harsher sentences for crimes compared to white people that have done the same. The conditions within American prisons are essentially created to have cheap labor for massive corporations; it’s obvious that its aim is to create a permanent working class.

What was once a slave plantation is now a prison; the facility is named “Angola” after the African country that was the origin of many slaves brought to Louisiana. In a documentary, American media platform ‘The Atlantic’ wrote, “Crops stretch to the horizon. Black bodies pepper the landscape, hunched over as they work the fields. Officers on horseback, armed, oversee the workers,” describing the first scenes in a report. “To the untrained eye, the scenes from the documentary could have been shot 150 years ago. The imagery haunts, and the stench of slavery and racial oppression lingers through the 13 minutes of footage”. Those troubling opening scenes of the documentary offer visual proof of a truth that America has worked hard to ignore.

The documentary raised questions about America’s inhumane treatment of its prisoners. In a sense, slavery never ended; it was reinvented. It is important to note that of more than 6,000 men currently imprisoned at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, three-quarters are there for life and nearly 80 percent are African American.