The Prison Industrial Complex:
Abolishing Prisons Is Not the Answer
Prisons Should Not Be Abolished
By Saul Guevara
Would you want to be a prisoner in your own house? Well that’s exactly what would happen if prisons were abolished. In the United States of America we have rules to follow; therefore, people who commit a crime should pay the consequences for it. If you are accused of doing something that you didn’t commit, you can get yourself a lawyer and fight against those charges. If there is enough evidence that shows that you are innocent and the jury agrees then perhaps the judge may acquit you but sadly this doesn’t happen all the time. In the late 1960s through the 1980s, there was a lot of racism, segregation, and oppression going around harming innocent people. During this time Assata Shakur was persecuted because she wanted to see a change in society, she wanted equal rights, full social and economic opportunities for black people. Overall, prisons may have their cons, but I feel like there’re many more pros working for it. Instead of spending lots of money to abolish prisons, we should spend money on reforming them and finding techniques to reduce the mistakes and flaws in the prison system to make them work more appropriately.
According to Dictionary.com, Prisons are buildings for the confinement of persons held while awaiting trial, persons sentenced after convictions. After reading about Assata’s experiences in the prisons she was held waiting to be trialed at, I would say that her definition of prison was more than just buildings of confinement; they were almost like hell with never ending brutal punishments. It seems like while she was in prison there were no rules or restrictions as for the treatment from the guards to the prisoners. Assata was a prime example on how she was victimized and used by the Prison Industrial Complex. There were times when the prison ward would lock Assata in solitaire confinement because she refused to get physically checked by a white doctor who was up to no good. Being locked in solitaire confinement for months for no reason mentally damaged Assata. Assata was not the same after being released from solitaire confinement; she said that she was in there for so long that she became quiet and was forgetting how to speak. They treated her as if she were an animal and had no human rights.
According to The Engaged Zen Foundation, a Prison Industrial Complex is a self-perpetuating industry based on the subjugation of an increasing segment of our communities by racial and economic scapegoating. The white government groups that were after all of the political activists decided that Assata was being a “treat” to society because of her revolutionary ways of thinking. The police tried to frame her in a bank robbery that she didn’t participate in, but they said that the lady in the picture from the surveillance camera was indeed her just because she was black. She was also so charged and accused of killing a police officer at the Turnpike. They were trying to convict her of any crime someone else committed and make it seem as if she was the one responsible for those crimes.
In the Assata autobiography, Angela Davis comments about how looking back twenty-five years it is damaging to see how they brought Assata down and how messed up the government was and still is in a political way. While she was being persecuted the police and the media hid the message that she was trying to send out to the black community by making her a victim of scapegoat and ruining her image around the whole country. She also talks about how prisons use up public tax money to maintain the prisons open and functioning and how it only benefits the private corporations. The prison industrial complex method is to get rid of the bad people out in the streets committing crimes and to mainly use minorities to make the private owners of the industries richer in the white communities from within prisons. Assata along with other of her revolutionary peers were imprisoned all because of their political opinions becoming victims of the prison industrial complex and scapegoat.
While reading Assata's autobiography, I became aware of how brutal she was being treated in the prisons as if she were not a human. Times have changed and there should be less racism in prison in today’s society. Therefore, I feel like prisons shouldn’t be abolished; they should be reformed so that there isn’t that much maltreatment in prisons. After seeing many prisoners going through a hard time in prison and after many complaints about the guards being submitted, there have been laws created to protect the rights of prisoners to get treated like they are humans and not animals. According to Paul Gendreau and David Keyes, from the article, “Making prisons safer and more humane environments”, they have theories on how they can make the prisons a better place for the inmates. They have three strategies to help out the inmates; first, they said that we could better the prisons by looking into predicting misconduct of prisoners. Secondly, they proposed to come up with programs that reduce misconduct behavior in prisons amongst themselves and the guards. Thirdly, to create proactive managerial policies that have direct implications for improving the life of the incarcerated and their keepers.
According to Edmundo Oliveira, in his article “An Institution on Trial”, he argues that prisons shouldn’t be abolished. He discusses the social, legal, ethical and psychological nature of prisons. He says that there is a necessity of punishment to criminal actions in today’s society due to the high crime rates in the inner city. Also, he states that the penal system is flawed when it comes down to their selection process that the prisons are only filled up to capacity with only poor people. Mr. Oliveira also says that prisons have been abolished for those who they call “underground criminals”, they are the people who are prestige, privilege or influenced. He says, “What should be done is not abolish prisons or imprison all and sundry, but improve the efficiency of the criminal law”.
Some people would differ and would say that abolishing prisons would be better because the system is inherently flawed. Some say that crime rates are already high and wont chance significantly if prisons were closed down. Others would say that keeping the prisons open is too expensive and that taxpayers are the ones that are paying right out their pockets and not getting anything back from their investments while other private companies benefit from them. And the rest of the population would say that abolishing prisons would work for most because it is morally wrong, illusionary, and that labels are placed on people and that prisons prevents integration with the rest of the population ones a criminals sentence is over.
People who agree that prisons should be reformed say that if the people who were convicted of crimes were released into public places, just walking down the street could be dangerous. Others say that crime rates would go up dramatically because they would go back to doing what they were caught doing before they got sentenced to prison. Prisoners would clash with the criminals out in the street and create more violence amongst each other. They will probably unite and begin gangs to regain power and take over neighborhoods. It is said that deeper social issues already existing within the community would also affect that crime rate.
In conclusion, prisons should be reformed and not abolished because the streets would be chaos and I for one wouldn’t want to be a prisoner of my own house. Just the thought of thinking that there would be no prison to go to if one was to commit a crime is unbelievable; to me that would be the end of the world as we know it. That means that there wouldn’t be any consequences for any criminal action, your free to do as you please after all it is the land of the free. There would be no order in society, rules to follow, everything would be dangerous and everything would just fall out of place because people would do what they please just knowing that nothing can be done to stop them. There would be no civilization, lost of jobs because all prisons were abolished, therefore the number of unemployment would go even higher than it is now. Prisons were established for a reason and that is to keep world order and to keep people on track doing the right thing to make the world a better place.
Gendreau, Paul, and David Keyes. "Making prisons safer and more humane environments." Canadian Journal of Criminology 43.1 (2001): 123-130. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 5 Apr. 2010.
Oliveira, Edmundo. "An institution on trial." UNESCO Courier 51.6 (1998): 4. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 5 Apr. 2010.