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What Is The Prison Industrial Complex?

"Prison Industrial Complex" (PIC) is a term we use to describe the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to what are, in actuality, economic, social, and political "problems." With more than 2 million people imprisoned, this system removes from society those who pose the greatest threat to government power.
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Crime and Political Ideology

For most of U.S. history, the harsher punishment model has been so dominant that it is part of our international image. We are the country where we "hang 'em high."
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Calvinism, Capitalism, Conversion, & Incarceration

Since the late 1970s our society has accepted increasingly rigid and vengeful ways of punishing those convicted of crimes. Behind this trend is the momentum of 250 years of a strain of religious philosophies brought to our shores by Pilgrims, Puritans, and other colonial settlers influenced by a Protestant theology called Calvinism. Today, many ideas, concepts, and frames of reference in modern American society are legacies of the history of Protestantism...
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Myths, Messages and Tactics of the Political Right

Certain myths and false assumptions are so widely held in the United States today that they contribute to the firm control of the criminal justice system by the Political Right...
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A Native Woman & Former Prisoner Speaks Out

The colonizers brought with them two tools of mass destruction, the bottle and the bible, both of which were forced upon Native people. The outcome of this was the erosion of these people's languages, cultures, life-ways, religions, land base and lives. Even their traditional ways to pray became illegal...
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The "New" Criminal Justice System:
State Repression from 1968 to 2001

Through its reach and impact, the prison industrial complex helps secure the authority of people who get their power through racial, economic and other structural privileges (e.g. White people, American citizens, people with property, people with money) by defending current power distributions. It benefits government and industry, as well as those individuals who already hold power in our society...
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White Fear

Crime In The Media

Prominent politicians declared war on crime and drugs as part of a broader political and economic strategy aimed at rolling back the reforms of the 1960s. Their efforts in these areas were successful, in part, because of the media's receptivity to the tough-on-crime rhetoric and eagerness to amplify its core messages...
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Maintaining the Racial, Economic, Social and Political Status Quo:

Exclusion, Marginalization and Criminalization

Calling the United States a nation of immigrants sanitizes its history by focusing on those who immigrated voluntarily, initially from northern and western Europe [Whites] and later from other parts of the world. This characterization completely excludes American Indians, the history of African chattel slavery in this country, and the forced annexation of the northern half of Mexico...
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Connecting Race-Based Slavery To Modern-Day Imprisonment

As a prisoner who is buried alive in a jail cell, it is readily apparent to me that for all intents and purposes, I am indeed a "slave..."
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Defending Justice is a publication of Political Research Associates (PRA), an independent nonprofit research center that exposes the Right and larger oppressive movements and institutions. PRA produces research and analytic tools to inform and support progressive activism.

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