Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Bureau of Prisons ranks immigration as third highest offense in nation’s jails

Bureau of Prisons ranks immigration as third highest offense in nation’s jails

LatinaLista — It’s never been a secret that the United States has a love affair with criminalizing people. Maybe it goes back to the days of the wild, wild West when it took brave men to stand up to train and bank robbers and cattle thieves.
All the early days of television that ran western shows idolized the guys wearing the badge and toting the gun.
Yet when this nation became industrialized, a.k.a. more civilized, the arrests of purported criminals just got worse. True, some deserved to be there — the killers, the robbers, the rapists, etc. But it’s always been a curiosity as to why U.S. society is so much more lawless compared to other countries.
According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, the United States ranks first among all countries with the biggest prison populations. As of Dec. 31, 2006, the U.S. prison population stood at 2,258,983.
Curious that the other two countries in the top three, #2 China and #3 Russian Federation, are known for oppression and arbitrary imprisonment. I realize that it’s natural that these other two countries are included in the top three because these three have the world’s largest populations but one would think that either Russia or China would take top spot.
Well, from the news today, the #1 spot is probably going to be our’s for a lot longer.
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It was reported that criminal prosecutions of undocumented immigrants reached an all-time high in March 2008. Immigration cases accounted for 57 percent of all new federal criminal cases.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the Federal Bureau of Prisons reports that the three highest offenses for incarceration today are:
1. Drug offenses.
2. Weapons, Explosives, Arson.
3. Immigration
Somebody working versus someone dealing in drugs or setting fire to something just doesn’t seem a fair comparison to jail someone, but then again, when it comes to undocumented immigrants fairness is the last thing on people’s minds.
In fact, the Department of Homeland Security has made it known that it hopes by criminalizing all caught undocumented immigrants it will discourage them from returning.
Again, they don’t see the reality of the situation.
The same report identifies the top lead charges in prosecuting immigration matters. Surprise, the #1 charge with 1,331 cases is “Reentry of a deported alien.”
So much for discouraging these people.
As the old saying goes, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
When will DHS realize that the will of these people is much stronger than the will of Congress and that until Congress forgets about their reelection chances and does what is best for these people and the country’s economy, the U.S. will be criminalizing the majority of the North American and Central American continents before everything is over and done.

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  • Frank
    June 18, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    “It’s never been a secret that the United States has a love affair with criminalizing people.”
    Words escape me that anyone could even say such a hateful thing about their own country. I guess it has been a “secret” to me and many other Americans.

  • Horace
    June 18, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    “It’s never been a secret that the United States has a love affair with criminalizing people. Maybe it goes back to the days of the wild, wild West when it took brave men to stand up to train and bank robbers and cattle thieves.”
    Oh, really? The U.S. is different from other countries on this planet in wishing to maintain order in its society. Singling out this country among the myriad of nations on this planet as exceptional in criminalizing people is typical of the bitter and spoiled tear down America crowd that takes every opportunity to disparage our nation. Let’s remember that it’s those who transgress our laws that criminalize themselves.
    You seem to think that arresting drug dealers, armed robbers, people in possession of and dealing in illegal weapons and explosives as a bad idea. Most Americans would disagree. As to the arrest of those who violate immigration laws enacted by the democratic will of the people, we do not arrest immigrants, who are defined by law as people who apply for and are granted legal residence status. We are very generous in permitting the immigration of over a million people per year, to include a great number of Latinos, but they can never be satisfied and ever ungreatful, even after being given an amnesty a few short years ago.

  • Texano78704
    June 19, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    “It’s never been a secret that the United States has a love affair with criminalizing people.”
    The truth sucks sometimes, doesn’t it?
    More people are arrested on offenses related to Marijuana than all the arrests for violent crime. Period.
    Further, the so-called “war on drugs” unfairly targets minorities. This “war” has a real purpose, counter-insurgency.
    That is just unacceptable, and I am sure that most US citizens agree. It is high time that Congress paid attention and put an end to criminalizing drug possession and drug use.
    Taking such action would divert untold amount of law enforcement manpower towards solving and preventing violent crimes and sex crimes.
    One more thing. No human is illegal.

  • Cyndy
    June 19, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Arresting people is the EASY solution (which is so ‘American’). Yes, there are people who really need to be in prison, but it has become our knee-jerk reaction to someone who breaks laws. I think that the point here regarding Latinos is that we are treating the symptom vs. addressing the problem. The problem of illegals won’t go away until we have a clear policy, and implement it. I think this is true no matter what you believe about immigration. We are spending billions to fight terrorism in the middle east, yet our only real reaction to the illegal problem is to throw ’em in jail.

  • Texan123
    June 19, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Immigration quotas and penalties for violating existing laws are necessary. Should we allow everyone to choose which laws they will obey?
    The “one time” Amnesty which passed in 1986 was a paperwork nightmare. That covered around 3 million people who has to provide documentation of employment and meet qualification. The problem was no one checked the background info. or employment records. There were double the number of expected applicants and not enough workers or time to verify the information submitted. What will it be like if 25 MILLION apply for the next Amnesty.
    The American people were PROMISED an end to illegal immigration thru border security and workplace enforcement in the Amnesty Act of 1986. Now the American people are saying NO to amnesty. We demand to receive the promised ENFORCEMENT and a SECURE BORDER. It has been 22 years and all we have are the empty promises of enforcement.
    This is why more arrests are being made, more raids, more laws to verify legal workers. Americans are demanding enforcement.
    It is not fair to those in countries other than Mexico, who apply to enter legally and ask permission to work and live here, to allow those who come illegally,who “cut in line” and steal our identities, our jobs,to give these violators the same rights as legal immigrants is only going to encourage more to come illegally.
    The fear of punishment will never stop ALL crime, but it will help control it.
    Let’s give enforcement a try for a change. It is a new concept but is catching on. We have 22 years of non-enforcement to overcome. Let’s give enforcement at least 21 years to catch up before any more talk of legal status for illegal immigrants.

  • Frank
    June 19, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Texano, I love the way you pro-illegals twist everything to suit your agenda. No one is implying that any human is illegally on this earth. But they can be in a country illegally when they don’t have papers to be there. But you knew that didn’t you, words twister!

  • Frank
    June 19, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Cyndy, we have “clear” immigration policies, they just haven’t been enforced as they should be. No, our only reaction isn’t to just throw them into jail. They are also being deported as our laws demand.

  • Horace
    June 19, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    “One more thing. No human is illegal.”
    Would you prefer the term “outlaw”, because it fits. Definition: An outlaw is one who lives outside the law.
    Outlaw is the perfect description of an illegal alien. Semantics does nothing to change the crime, because as Shakespeare once said, “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet”. Play the game of semantics if you will, Texano, but in the end those so-called undocumented” have violated the law by forgetting that little technicality, “documents”, that make them live outside our laws. Actually, its widely accepted that most have a lot of documents, fraudulent ones, else how could they ever work in this country.
    What’s next, calling escaped criminals “undocumented”, because they’ve forgotten that little piece of paper signed by the governor called the parole certificate. Or maybe we’ll call unlicensed drivers “undocumented”, because they forgot to take that driver’s test and to pick up that card called a license. Maybe we should call that person practicing medicine without a license, “undocumented”, because he forgot to go to med school and get his other document, the degree. This term “undocumented” is a sham meant to give legitimacy or mitigate the crime of illegal immigration. You people are so pathetically pretentious. Illegal alien/immigrant was used for decades without outcry until Hispanic journalists decided they didn’t like it. I’m sure that the relatives of thieves would like them called something more obfuscatory. Other than by advocates and newspapers, an “undocumented” alien/immigrant, is called by what he/she is, illegal. LOL.

  • laura
    June 19, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Imprisoning people, and criminalizing them for immigration violations, is part of the war on immigrants the Bush administration, and Michael “Katrina” Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, declared after the big May 1 demonstrations of 2006.
    At that time, undocumented as well as visa-holding immigrants demanded fairness, respect, and recognition for the enormously hard work they do that keeps this country running: first and foremost, planting and picking our food. Plus so many other forms of hard, back-breaking, undesirable labor.
    For Bush and his friends and constituents, the rich and the super-rich, that was the signal to begin terrorizing immigrants so they would not dare raise their heads again. Why would Bush’s friends want to pay their maids, gardeners, not to mention their factory workers, anything like a fair wage?
    Since the last days of August 2005, we know how little the life of an American citizen is worth to Bush and Chertoff. Poor people/black people drowning in New Orleans did not get their attention long enough to change their plans for fundraisers and other summer fun.
    Are we surprised that the same people think nothing of destroying the lives of thousands and thousands of immigrants? Are we surprised thst immigrants are dying in for-profit detention centers, run by cronies of this administration?
    I have previously compared what the corporate elite in the US today are doing to undocumented immigrants and to Latina/os in general, to the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s.
    We see the ideological wing, which spouts racist hate propaganda daily over the airwaves, in the corprate media’s sponsoring of Lou Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly et el. We see the little henchmen, insecure and frustrated in their own lives, and wanting to vent their anger on someone who can’t fight back, spewing hate speech and committing acts of private hate crimes. We can read some of their output here as “Frank and Horace” postings. And we see the official violence of state entities, ICE and some local police.
    Now we are seeing the mass imprisonment.
    This is not so different from what Jews went through in Germany.
    The main difference is there are no gas ovens in the US, and I do not think there will be. But the hate speech, the violence, the detention, even the word deportation: those are comparable.
    Comparable also is the base stupidity of the perpetrators. The economy is already in recession; imprisoning large parts of the workforce will exacerbate the crisis quickly. That won’t be good even for Bush’s rich cronies. Just like the Nazis in the end were not good for Germany’s corporate elite.
    Immigrant communities are in a state of emergency. Our loved ones are being mistreated in prison. Children are separated from parents. How do we respond?
    One simple thing: demand that candidates for elected office tell us where they stand on the crisis inflicted on Latino communities by Bush and his cronies.
    That is one small thing; it is not enough.

  • Evelyn
    June 20, 2008 at 5:28 am

    I believe it is time for those who wrap themselves in the American flag and flaunt patriotic names on the web to show their patriotism by upholding our constitution instead of trying to ignore, spin or change it.
    Our constitution grants Justice and Equality to all people within our borders. When the illegal aliens, outlaws, undocumenteds, illeegals or whatever you want to call them from Europe, were granted citizenship right off the boat then today’s illegal aliens should be given equal treatment.
    Every time a new batch of illegal aliens came from Europe, other Europeans who were already here protested. It did no good because our gov, went ahead and made them citizens anyway.
    To uphold justice and equality our gov. must do the same with the illegal aliens here now. If not, then our constution is being mocked and we are true hypocrites who dont deserve to be called Americans.
    Hardliners Try To Whitewash Their Own Immigrant Past, By Redefining “Immigration”
    A new argument in my travels, both in the comments here on AlterNet and around the internet. It’s perhaps best captured by the motto of the “Illegal Invasion News” blog: “IT’S NOT ‘IMMIGRATION’ AND THEY’RE NOT ‘IMMIGRANTS.'” (This claim is often articulated in that ALL CAPS style so popular with small children and lunatics who are off their meds.)
    The word “immigrant” has nothing at all to do with legal status. It means, simply, to move from one place to another for the purpose of settling down. Papers, no papers — it’s all irrelevant to the act of migrating.
    The claim can be dispatched easily enough with a little elementary etymology. The word “migration” first appears in the English language in reference to humans in 1611, some 37 years before the modern nation state, with its discrete borders, came into existence. The Latin root of the verb “to immigrate,” immigrare, predates that by more than a thousand years. Human migration is a phenomenon that dates back to before homo sapiens even existed — pre-modern humans migrated wily-nilly. So, clearly, the word “immigrant” has nothing whatsoever to do with one’s paperwork being in order; its roots predate the existence of contemporary legal systems.
    An interesting question is why they bother making the argument at all? Surely, it’s not relevant to the larger issue.
    Or so it seems. But it is relevant, in that it is a response to a major problem for real immigration hardliners: the United States is, indisputably, a nation of immigrants and our heterogeneity, contra the howls of many a right-winger, is a big part of what makes America what it is. You can gorge on Bratwursts in Michigan, drink way too much vodka and mingle with decked-out Russian gliteratti in Brighton Beach, still read local Deutsche Zeitungen in small towns in Minnesota, eat Ethiopian food with your hands in L.A., sing weepy Irish ballads over your Guinness in dozens of Boston bars, wander the docks as the Vietnamese fishermen come in for a Texas evening and get the best roast pork in Little Havana. And thank god for all of that — I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    But consider how awkward that simple reality is for a nice Irish boy like Bill O’Reilly, or someone like Tom Tancredo, whose grandparents — all four of them — immigrated to the U.S. from Italy in the first decades of the 20th century. There are a lot of immigration restrictionists of European descent — people with names like O’Malley, Kowolski or Schmitt — who are incensed about the current generation of immigrants to America, and to avoid charges of hypocrisy — or simple cognitive dissonance — they have an almost obsessive need to distinguish between their forebearers — “good immigrants” every one — and these scoundrels coming here today.
    Usually, they’re content to hang onto the fact that their great-grandparents immigrated legally, but I guess some need to go a step further and deny that those who bypass the system are immigrants at all.
    Even the former distinction is weak. Consider the similarities between, say, the wave of European immigration that arrived in the 1880s and 1890s and those who have come over the past decade, and they dwarf the differences. Descendants of the huge waves of European immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries make much of the fact that their great grandparents came here “legally,” but they rest their case on a technicality: the only reason they were legal was that there was no law in effect restricting European immigration until the 1920s. In fact, European immigrants didn’t even need to identify themselves to get in — the derogatory word for Italians, “WOP,” was an acronym stamped on entry documents that meant the person was arriving “With Out Papers.”
    It’s true those earlier immigrants hadn’t violated any law, but they never asked American citizens for permission to come and, while they contributed much to the growth of the American economy they, like their modern counterparts today, were not embraced with open arms by all of American society. In the mid-19th century, gangs would pepper arriving German immigrants with stones; walk into any Irish bar in New York City and you’ll find the ubiquitous sign reading, “Irish Need Not Apply.” Now those signs are a kitschy testament to Irish integration into American society, but back then they were anything but.
    When one listens to the arguments put forth by people like Lou Dobbs today, they’re virtually indistinguishable from what was said of those earlier European immigrants: they’re invading in huge numbers; they won’t assimilate like earlier immigrants have; they won’t learn the language like earlier immigrants did; they vote in mindless blocs; they’re unclean; their religions are backwards, and etc. Consider Benjamin Franklin’s concerns expressed in a letter written in 1753:
    Measures of great Temper are necessary with the Germans … Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation … I remember when they modestly declined intermeddling in our Elections, but now they come in droves, and carry all before them, except in one or two Counties; Few of their children in the Country learn English; they import many Books from Germany; and of the six printing houses in the Province, two are entirely German, two half German half English, and but two entirely English; They have one German News-paper, and one half German. Advertisements intended to be general are now printed in Dutch and English; the Signs in our Streets have inscriptions in both languages, and in some places only German … In short unless the stream of their importation could be turned from this to other colonies … they will soon so out number us, that all the advantages we have will not in My Opinion be able to preserve our language, and even our Government will become precarious.
    That hearty German stock that had Ben Franklin so concerned would produce such esteemed Americans as Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, author of the infamous “Sensenbrenner Bill” that would have made it a felony to even offer humanitarian aid to an undocumented immigrant, among other provisions. Sensenbrenner is just as concerned with the large numbers of Latin Americans coming in to the country today, and his rhetoric is very similar to old Ben Franklin’s. One of the key differences is that in Franklin’s era — and through the middle of the 20th century — immigration restrictionists spoke of the innate inferiority of other human “races”; in modern times, that’s impolitic, so Sensenbrenner and his contemporaries make a big show of distinguishing between “legal” and “illegal” immigration.
    In every generation, the gloom and doom predictions about how those newer immigrants would ultimately lead to the nation’s destruction have proven overwrought and inaccurate. By the third generation, the Irish, Poles, Italians and all the rest of Europe’s immigrants had all become Americans. And so it will be with today’s new immigrants. According to a recent study cited in The Washington Post, immigrants today are no different; in fact, the study noted that “immigrants of the past quarter-century have been assimilating in the United States at a notably faster rate than did previous generations.”
    The similarities don’t end with the consistent hostility some Americans have for newer arrivals. Individuals have all sorts of reasons for emigrating, but throughout our history, when large numbers migrate from a single country or region, it’s always been in response to some kind of shock in their country of origin, be it civil strife or pestilence or drought or war or economic collapse or natural disaster. Today we have a large number of immigrants from Mexico — slightly more than half of all new migrants — which followed the peso crisis, which was aggravated by job displacement resulting from NAFTA’s liberalization of agriculture. Again, this is consistent, whether we’re talking about the Irish fleeing the Great Potato Famine, Russian Jews fleeing the pogroms or Vietnamese boat people fleeing war in South-East Asia. The Wikipedia entry for Swedish emigration to America explains that their numbers peaked just after the Civil War:
    There was widespread resentment against the religious repression practiced by the Swedish Lutheran State Church and the social conservatism and class snobbery of the Swedish monarchy. Population growth and crop failures made conditions in the Swedish countryside increasingly bleak.
    Aside from the obvious demographic differences between today’s immigrants and those of earlier eras, there was another difference. Relative to the native population, the wave of elevated immigration hitting our shores today is nothing compared to previous ones. During the 1980s and 1990s, about 16.4 million immigrants came to America — a number equaling 7.1 percent of the 1981 population; during the period between 1901and 1920, about 14.5 million new arrivals came to America, but that number represented 18.9 percent of the population in 1901.
    Those who like to throw around rhetoric about some huge “invasion” would do well to read some history — what we’re seeing now is a drop in the bucket compared to earlier periods of American history.

  • aj
    June 21, 2008 at 7:15 am

    ‘When the illegal aliens, outlaws, undocumenteds, illeegals or whatever you want to call them from Europe, were granted citizenship right off the boat then today’s illegal aliens should be given equal treatment.’
    Evelyn failed to mention something. 100 years ago we had 88 million people. Now we’re over 300 million. Yet some people act like we should automatically have a policy resembling that of a century ago. Is there any other policy area where people say ‘Well, that’s the way we did it a hundred years ago and we have to do the same thing now’? What matters is what’s good policy NOW. 7 figure immigration from a base of 300 million is a whole different ballgame than the old days.
    ‘…our gov. must do the same with the illegal aliens here now. If not, then our constution is being mocked and we are true hypocrites who dont deserve to be called Americans.’
    How is the Constitution ‘mocked’ by having a naturalization process?

  • Horace
    June 21, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    We criminalize illegal aliens because we want to discourage their behavior, period. They won’t respect our policies on immigration, to stay on their side of the border pending approval to immigrate if we ask them politely. This is no different than arresting someone for driving recklessly after they’ve been informed that they will be punished for doing so. Foreigners have no right to immigrate ours or any other country without permission of the host country, regardless of your idiotic Marxist propaganda, Evelyn. Most countries criminalize illegal aliens, with some, like South Korea, even fining them for violations of immigration law. Personally, I think it would be a great idea to add a 5,000 fine, to mitigate the costs of operating our ICE and Border Patrol. I also think that Border Patrol and ICE personnel should get bonuses based upon the number of illegal immigrants they bring in, and that we ought to put pictures of illegal alien fugitives up in Post Offices around the nation and offer bounties to citizens.

  • Evelyn
    June 21, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Is the U.S. Overpopulated?
    by Carl Shusterman
    Immigration advocates frequently assert that we are a “nation of immigrants” and any reductions in legal immigration would not only be unfair to the U.S. citizen relatives and petitioning employers of potential immigrants, but would amount to a betrayal of the principles that our country was founded on.
    Immigration restrictionists argue just as forcefully that large-scale immigration only made sense when we were a frontier society, and it is time to drastically diminish the number of immigrants (currently about 800,000 annually) that the U.S. admits. Many argue that the U.S. is “overpopulated”.
    To give some perspective to this matter, I did a some library research to find out which countries and colonies around the world have the greatest population density.
    The three questions that I researched were as follows:
    Which five countries/colonies are the most densely populated in the world?
    Is the U.S. more or less densely populated than our “mother country”, the United Kingdom?
    Is the U.S. more or less densely populated than the world at-large?
    Contrary to the anecdotal experience of the typical rush-hour commuter on almost any large freeway in any major city, the U.S. does not rank among the top five most densely populated places on earth. Those that do are as follows:
    A) Macau – 25,841 persons per square kilometer
    B) Monaco – 16,559 persons per square kilometer
    C) Hong Kong – 5,748 persons per square kilometer
    D) Singapore – 4,754 persons per square kilometer
    E) Gibraltar – 4,459 persons per square kilometer
    Funny how many tourists from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami tend to take their vacations in one or the other of these places. However, to be fair, what is the population density of a typical industrialized country? Read on.
    In the United Kingdom, otherwise known as England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a number of sparsely-populated islands, the average population density is 239 persons per square kilometer.
    How does this compare to the population density in the U.S.? Believe it or not, the average population density in the U.S. is only 28 persons per square kilometer, about 11.5% of Britain’s. Given the difference, isn’t it amazing how many Americans que up to see Big Ben and the Tower of London every year?
    Okay, but let’s get to the bottom line: How does the population density in the U.S. stack up to that worldwide? Worldwide, the average population density (including the low U.S. average) is 42 persons per square kilometer, or 66.6% higher than the U.S.
    Perhaps those who think the U.S. is overpopulated may want to pick up some inexpensive options on real estate in Greenland or Antarctica in time for their retirement. In any case, with one of the lowest birthrates in the world, it is doubtful that allowing an amount less than one-third of one percent of our population to immigrate to the U.S. annually will lead to the U.S. becoming an “overpopulated” country within the next few hundred years.

  • Evelyn
    June 21, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Immigration is at an all time high because of NAFTA. Immigrants from Mexico are following their wealth to the U.S. Because you hate Mexicans You should vote for Obama. He is willing to renegotiate NAFTA. If an agreement could be reached to make NAFTA more fair for Mexico. Mexicans wouldn’t come. If the U.S. Gov. would have stayed out of the last election in Mexico, the man Lopez Obrador who really won (but was taken out by U.S.) wanted to throw U.S. companies out of Mexico so their wages could go up. The U.S. only lets elitist, people that can be bought win elections in Mexico.
    Dumping Without Borders
    How US Agricultural Policies are Destroying the Livelihoods of Mexican Corn Farmers
    The Mexican corn sector is in acute crisis because of the influx of cheap subsidised corn imports from the US. Poor Mexican farmers cannot compete against US producers, who receive $10bn a year in subsidies. Action is required at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun in September 2003 to end agricultural dumping, together with action by the Mexican government to control US corn imports.
    “Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the US!” Popular saying
    Executive summary
    In September 2003, the world’s trade ministers will descend on the Mexican tourist resort of Cancun. The aim is to advance the current negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Northern governments promised to make the latest talks a ‘development round’. But if they are to translate their promises into practice, they will need to address an issue that is causing mass poverty across the developing world: agricultural dumping. Nowhere is the problem more powerfully apparent than among Mexico’s corn farmers.
    Mexico has been growing corn for 10,000 years. But today the corn sector is in a state of acute crisis. Household incomes are in decline, and nutrition is deteriorating. Across Mexico, millions of people are migrating in a desperate bid to escape rural poverty, many of them intent on reaching the US. In the southern state of Chiapas, where the corn crisis has interacted with a collapse in coffee prices, it is estimated that 70 per cent of the rural population now live in extreme poverty.
    The slump affecting Mexico’s corn farmers has multiple causes. Some of these are domestic. Successive Mexican governments have failed the rural poor, preferring to concentrate public spending on commercial enterprises. It is also the result of the strategies of big agribusiness companies which buy, trade, and process corn on both sides of the border. But the US government is also directly culpable, and it is US agricultural policy that will be under discussion in September. As we show in this paper, there is a direct link between government agricultural policies in the US and rural misery in Mexico.
    Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexico has rapidly opened its markets to imports from the US, including corn. Since the early 1990s, US corn exports to Mexico have expanded by a factor of three. These exports now account for almost one third of the domestic market.
    Surging imports have been associated with a steep decline in prices. Real prices for Mexican corn have fallen more than 70 per cent since 1994. For the 15 million Mexicans who depend on the crop, declining prices translate into declining incomes and increased hardship. Many people can no longer afford basic health care. Women have suffered disproportionately. Male migration and falling incomes have increased the labor demands on them, both on household farms and in income-generating activity beyond the household.
    One of the primary factors behind the advantage US corn has in the Mexican market is US government payments to the sector. The US corn sector is the largest single recipient of US government payments. In 2000, government pay-outs totaled $10.1bn. To put this figure in context, it is some ten times greater than the total Mexican agricultural budget.
    In its official reports to the WTO, the US denies using any export subsidies in the corn sector. That denial is justified in terms of the letter of WTO law, which currently defines export subsidies as a payment that bridges the gap between (higher) world prices and (lower) export prices. The problem is that the WTO regulations relating to agriculture are deeply flawed. They fail to acknowledge that transfers to producers include a de facto export subsidy.
    In this paper we estimate the scale of this subsidy by two methods. The first involves comparing export prices with the cost of production. The second involves converting overall payments to corn into $/ton equivalent subsidies, and then using this to estimate total export subsidies. Both of these methods are consistent with the rules applied to dumping by the WTO in nonagricultural areas. They reveal an effective export subsidy to the Mexican market of between $105 and $145m annually. This export subsidy exceeds the total household income of the 250,000 corn farmers in the state of Chiapas.
    Far from operating on a ‘level playing field’, small farmers in Chiapas and elsewhere in Mexico are at the wrong end of a steeply sloping playing field which runs downhill from the US Mid-West. They are competing not against US farmers, but against US taxpayers and the world’s most powerful treasury. It is difficult to think of a starker illustration of unfair trade in practice.
    Set against the losses suffered by Mexico’s rural poor, US corn subsidies do create some winners. Agricultural corporations – such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) – get access to US corn surpluses at artificially depressed prices, creating lucrative export opportunities. The same corporations are the largest corn exporters to Mexico, and benefit from export credits to Mexican importers. Some US farmers also gain. However, the lion’s share of corn subsidies goes to the biggest farms. As in other sectors, US agricultural subsidies hurt the rural poor overseas and fail the rural poor at home, but they create windfall gains for big farms and corporate agribusiness interests.
    The crisis facing Mexican corn farmers is a microcosm of the crisis facing millions of vulnerable rural communities across the developing world. Resolution of the corn crisis will require action at the national and the global levels. The Mexican government needs as a matter of urgency to renegotiate the NAFTA agreement. It is unconscionable for Mexico’s poorest rural communities to be subjected to competition from heavily subsidized imports. They have a right to more effective protection – and the Mexican government has a responsibility to provide it.
    At the global level, stronger WTO rules are needed to prohibit all forms of direct and indirect export subsidies. That prohibition should extend to subsidized export credits (which are extensively used by the US in Mexico).
    One of the most serious problems with current WTO rules is that they are designed to accommodate, rather than reduce, trade-distorting subsidies provided by the US and the EU. For example, up to half of total US agricultural support payments are exempt from WTO discipline, ostensibly on the grounds that they do not increase production. The distinctions drawn between Green Box (allowed) and Amber Box (prohibited) subsidies are an anachronism. They were designed by the EU and the US, largely to facilitate the repackaging of subsidies under the Uruguay Round agreement.
    This paper recommends the following measures:
    WTO members should agree to a timetable at Cancun for the elimination of agricultural export dumping.
    The WTO Agreement on Agriculture should guarantee the right of developing countries to protect their agricultural sector in the interests of development and food security.
    The US government must introduce fundamental changes to its agricultural support measures, to guarantee the sustainability of US family farms by providing fair prices and equal access to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agricultural support for small producers, minorities, and women.
    The Mexican government should push for the revision and renegotiation of NAFTA, so as to protect crops and products that it considers essential for food security and development in the country.

  • Horace
    June 22, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    NAFTA? Look at the rest of Latin America, they’re not part of NAFTA, yet their people are also becoming illegal immigrants, in Spain. Corruption is endemic in Mexico, and the rest of Latin America. It’s white Hispanics that are acting as plutocrats, and oppressing Amerindians that driving them out of the country. Illegal immigration is the symptom of the failure of Hispanic run governments, which seek to blame everyone but themselves for the impoverishment of their peoples.
    I wrote this in reply to Immigration Lawyers blog article, but it applies here. Not that the extracted articles I include are written by Hispanics. This exposes the pathetic blame America for all Latin American lies from Marxist Evelyn.
    Honest governments do not have their populaces fleeing their homelands. Brazil and other Latin American countries are famous for their abuse of indigenous peoples, political corruption and destruction or waste of the natural resources. Latin American governments are now using specious arguments to avoid facing the return of peoples who have had a taste of living in the successful law revering European environment. Latin American politicians fear return of these expatriates greatly, thats why they desperately, hypocritically and audaciously use references to human rights to appeal to the compassionate nature of the citizens of the European Union.
    South America should look towards solving its own problems rather than driving its population to Europe. The open borders advocacy folks like professors Johnson and Hing like to speak of the natural migrations of the past, but this is the 21st century, and modern times migrations are not the natural search for opportunity, a fleeing from natural disaster, or the result of war. Such migrations are the symptoms of the aforementioned failures and as relief valves for corrupt and ineffective governments, permitting them to continue when they should be removed from office and put in the dust bin of history. Professors Hing and Johnson are sadly, unwitting enablers of the oppressors of Latin America.
    Like the U.S., Europe isn’t interested in being complicit in Latin America’s deliberate purging of its excess and potentially revolutionary poor and uneducated. If the Europeans and Americans are wise, they will never let these failed states dictate their immigration policies, and continue implementing their deportation policies.
    Latin America Corruption
    by Luis Vega
    October 27, 2004
    Corruption is an integral part of every part of every governing body in the world whether it is high on the political ladder with the president being involved in some form or another or it may trickle down to the local assemblymen or most commonly the police force. Taking bribes, stealing money to fund your own personal ventures, or turning the other way when you see something going on right in front of your face is all forms of corruption that if they occur enough it could stagnate the economic progress of the country, or even the growth of fair government or democracy.
    A Cabal of Corruption
    Latin American governments are often noted for the amount of corruption that exists between them. Even the most politically and economically advanced countries deal with corruption of some sort. In Mexico the police force is notorious for the amount of corruption that it participates in from kidnappings, taking bribes, to drug dealing. It is comparable across the board. All countries deal with it, some more than others but at any rate it is prevalent.
    The stagnation of economies is due to leaders taking advantage of their post to benefit themselves even though when they were elected they promised to work in the best interest of the people. The temptation of taking advantage of the situation that they are put in is way more than they can handle. On top of the power that officials and politicians possess they have access to government money. Why do these forms of abuse take place? In the United States they will say it is democracy or lack there of. But the truth of the matter is that it happens even in the most of democratic nations in Latin America.
    Democracy amongst Americans is simple to conceptualize but when enforcing it upon other countries it seems like they drop it and it leave it. And even when democracy is not the form of government in another country as long as they get backing from the United States government and follow United States protocol the American government will give support. Support from the United States and following protocol will oft give the impression that corruption will cease or at least be limited. This is not the case at all. As an outsider looking in it is pretty easy to tell that the United States will only meddle in only to a certain extent. The truth of the matter is, if it does not curtail the plans of the United States government that’s when the blind eye gets turned.
    Common Corruption
    It is common for corruption to occur amongst top officials in a country but what is not spoken of is the corruption with local officials. Local communities are hurt by local politicians because of the bribery and thievery they involve themselves with. On a recent trip to Panama right in the midst of election season just before Martin Torrijos was elected president it was evident how important local politics were. It was apparent that democratic elections were taken very seriously in Panama. There were advertisements all over the place from Panama City to the Costa Rican border. Along with the help of the United States Panama has been able to maintain economic stability that other Latin American nations have not even come close to.
    Outside of Panama City where 2.5 million of its 5 million inhabitants dwell local politics are imperative people to maintain a decent way of life. When asked a local of district 14 about the upcoming elections “The national elections are great and our people have a sense of nationalism but outside of Panama City no one matters and local politicians steal the money they are supposed to use for our communities. Democracy doesn’t mean much at all when there is so much money involved. It is so easy to steal from the government which in turns they are stealing from us.” I asked where his expertise of politics comes from he replied as if I insulted him and simply said “just because I’m from the country doesn’t mean that I couldn’t afford an education.”
    Paving the Infrastructure
    Local politics are often determined by how much enforcement officials could get away with, which trickled down from governors to police officers to small business owners. Some of the smallest towns and districts operate on a budget as small as 5,000 to 10,000 a month.
    These figures are supposed to break down and represent books for school, paving roads, fix potholes, and anything to better the community. The truth of the matter is most of these improvements never occur, and it is prevelant especially of what I witnessed in District 14. Most of the 5,000 to 10,000 dollar budget gets pocketed with fake receipts and false promises. Schools look like shacks, roads are impossible to ride on, and schools are using the same books they’ve been using since before Manuel Noriega. Either the president and top officials are clueless or they just turn a blind eye for support from local politicians.
    Corruption is the main reason for political instability which in turn hurts the economy and even though the United States is very supportive of democracy and its main goal is to spread it throughout the world it does not follow through in teaching the principles and formalities that come with it.
    It is easy to say that the United States has assisted many nations the movement towards democracy but what is often not heard of is how very poorly these countries are conducting the democratic values. Who is stop officials from taking and offering bribes? With this happening there is nothing that can be done in terms of checks and balances. Who is to stop who without the United States being the controller? Democracy has been able to work in the United States but it hasn’t been so successful in other countries of the world. In Latin America without controls set in place it is very unlikely for democracy to work. Economies are sinking lower and lower and politicians are becoming richer and richer, and corruption is making democracy unachievable. Hopefully democracy is the answer, but it is probable that it may not be.
    Read more:
    Corruption in Latin America, a Desk Assessment, 2004

  • low-tech cyclist
    June 23, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Horace: Singling out this country among the myriad of nations on this planet as exceptional in criminalizing people is typical of the bitter and spoiled tear down America crowd that takes every opportunity to disparage our nation.
    It’s also fact. The U.S. is exceptional in this regard.
    You’re entitled to your own opinions about this fact, but if you regard the statement of the fact as America-bashing, then you don’t love America – you just love the scrubbed image of America that you carry around in your head.
    No other country in the world needs to imprison so many people to maintain order. So are Americans simply more criminal than residents of other countries, or are we carrying out needlessly stupid and self-destructive incarceration policies?

  • Evelyn
    June 23, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    “Corruption is the main reason for political instability which in turn hurts the economy and even though the United States is very supportive of democracy and its main goal is to spread it throughout the world it does not follow through in teaching the principles and formalities that come with it.”
    A perfect example of the kind of democracy that the U.S. gov. puts in place can be seen in Iraq.
    Take out Saddam H. replace with Al Qaeda.
    Leave Iraqis without water or electricity and many other public services.
    Create lawlessness.
    Kill thousands of Iraqis in the process.
    Let corruption settle in.
    Collude with the corrupt Iraqi Gov. put in place by the U.S. gov.
    Steal any natural resources they have. OIL OIL OIL.
    Suck their country dry.
    Make Iraqi people have to migrate here to support themselves and stay alive.

  • Horace
    June 23, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Your comments are so ignorant that they I really shouldn’t bother to reply. By the way, do any of you supporters of illegal aliens concur with evelyn’s crap?
    “Take out Saddam H. replace with Al Qaeda.”
    The corrupt and evil organization would fill the vacuum of power in Iraq if it could. And if you haven’t noticed, evelyn, our troops are dying at their hands. I find you dispicable in your exploitation of this tragedy.
    “Leave Iraqis without water or electricity and many other public services.”
    Even a cretin like you evelyn, should know that we’re rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq and that Al Qaida is intent on destroying it and turning back the clock to primitive times when Sharia Law was dominant in South West Asia.
    “Create lawlessness.”
    Are you actually stupid enough to believe that this is our intent? Much of what’s happened is the result of sectarian differences, mainly Shiite and Sunni differences that are the fault of the Iraqis themselves, animostities that have existed for centuries.
    “Kill thousands of Iraqis in the process.”
    I’m sick of your disparagement of our military. You imply that our policies are such that their intent is to commit crimes, when in fact they result in confrontation with those who oppose a democratic Iraq.
    “Let corruption settle in.”
    Another simplistically stupid comment. Iraq is a sovereign power, not totally under our control. I’m sure that you believe that we deliberately intended for this to happen.
    “Collude with the corrupt Iraqi Gov. put in place by the U.S. gov.”
    Another stupid whopper. Elections were held under the auspices of the United Nations, so like it or not, the current government was elected by the democratic process. It isn’t perfect but it’s better than it was under the former regime.
    “Steal any natural resources they have. OIL OIL OIL.”
    Steal natural resources? Cite your references for this lie. Iraq needs to sell oil in order to stay afloat economically, as do many nations. It’s sold on the market at the same price as Saudi oil. Oil is a commodity. It’s worthless unless take out of the ground, refined, used locally or sold abroad. You’re an idiot, evelyn.
    “Suck their country dry.”
    More like the other way around, you treacherous anti-American cretin. If you haven’t noticed, the U.S. is putting far more money into Iraq, keeping it from being taken over by Al Quaida and preventing civil war than it’s getting out. The U.S., through the Corps of Engineers is building schools and other infrastruture. You don’t read much in the way of news, evelyn, because it’s our country’s taxpayers that are being “sucked dry” by Iraq and its civil war. What is it that we’re “sucking dry” from Iraq, evelyn?
    “Make Iraqi people have to migrate here to support themselves and stay alive.”
    Such crap. Something like 5,000 Iraqis are due to immigrate to the U.S., mainly due to threats from sectarian violance and Al Qaieda.
    evelyn, you make me puke. I hope everyone else in this blog can see through your lies.

  • Horace
    June 23, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    “No other country in the world needs to imprison so many people to maintain order. So are Americans simply more criminal than residents of other countries, or are we carrying out needlessly stupid and self-destructive incarceration policies?”
    You’re right, mr. low-tech cyclist, The People’s Republic of China doesn’t bother, they just use a bullet in the back of the head. They execute people for reasons that we’d never think of doing, with corruption and theft being frequent justifications. They also persecute religious groups like the Falun Gong. I suppose we can overlook those policies when we start discussing imprisonment, but death is far more significant than temporary loss of liberty. They save a lot of money on the expenses of incarcertation. Does that meet your demands of humanity, after all, it keeps the prison population down, if that’s your only concern.

  • Evelyn
    June 24, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    If I make you puke you will be turning inside out when you read the truth and LOOK at the PICTURES at the link below.
    Here is the TRUE story about your petty 5.000 war refugees.
    Democracy Now: Calling for U.S. aid to Iraqi refugees
    Posted by Democracy Now on June 24, 2008 at 10:25 AM.
    The U.S. has resettled only 5,000 of 4.3 million displaced Iraqis since the invasion of Iraq. On top of that, less than 1% of all Iraqi refugees have landed in developed nations.
    Republican Denial
    Republican denial of any American wrongdoing reaches preposterous heights. Republican with a straight face assert that $300 billion in arms killed no Iraqis, at least no children, that the Johns-Hopkins report on the casualties is a left wing conspiracy and completely false, that the bombs they saw on CNN leveling Baghdad killed no one, that there is no torture in Iraq, even though there have been criminal convictions, that Saddam masterminded 9/11 even though Bush admitted he had no connection. Sometimes they will claim that every photo of the destruction and victims in Iraq are clever forgeries put out by the Iraqis. Sometimes they will even claim the Iraqis maim and kill their own children simply to take photos of them that will make the Americans look bad.
    I wondered what could motivate people to lie so outrageously. Why were they supporting torture and anal rape of children? Surely 50% of American were not all sadistic pedophiles.
    Here is how Northern Storm, a frequent poster in alt.politics.bush explains it: This is how Republicans see the Iraq war: “Sure, bad things happen in war but this war is very noble. Besides, that picture you’re shoving in my face is an isolated incident according to the administration and I’ll believe them before I believe you.
    Moreover, these isolated incidents you’re pointing out, while tragic and regrettable, are out weighed by all the wonderful things we’re doing in Iraq. Haven’t you read about the wonderful new schools and hospitals we’re building for our friends the Iraqis?”
    You have to keep in mind that the Republicans want (desperately) to believe it. Plus, they’re inundated every day with the rosy picture that FOX and Rush are paid to tell them. If a guy in a nice suit on TV tells them what they already want to believe, it’s pretty easy for them to fall in line.
    Furthermore, most of them are young and idealistic. Many aren’t old enough to recall their government lying to them during the Vietnam years.
    Lastly, there’s always been an under the surface theme throughout public education in America that equates questioning the government as a lack of patriotism. To speak out makes you a traitor, in their minds.
    The Iraq war is a continuation of the 9-11 and Afghanistan Wag The Dog.
    Bush is raping, maiming, killing and torturing kids in Iraq. This must stop. There is no compelling reason to hurt these kids.
    It seems like the war has been going on forever, but it started on 2003-03-20, 5 years and 3 months ago, with the bombing of Baghdad. In this essay I hope to convince you that George W. Bush’s sadistic killing, torture and rape of Iraq’s children is both wrong and pointless. It must stop.
    “It is sort of fascinating that you can have 100 percent certainty about weapons of mass destruction and zero certainty of about where they are.”
    ~ Hans Blix , UN chief Weapons Inspector
    The essential argument against the Iraq war is the same as the argument against all wars. Wars bring unimaginable suffering. The soldiers, children, women and the elderly killed, maimed and tortured suffer. War corrodes the souls of those who do the killing. War destroys the environment. War is extremely expensive. It takes resources away from activities that support life.
    What makes the Iraq war unusual is that those supporting it offer only trivial or ludicrous justifications. They refuse to admit they want the war in order to make money by selling war materials and by stealing Iraq’s oil.

  • Horace
    June 24, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    The other side of the coin of imprisonment is the fact that there are countries in this world that have poor records in enforcing their laws, that justice is hard to find and there should be a larger prison populations than exist. For example, how likely is it that a Mexican woman would find justice in her country’s court system for the being the victim of the crime of rape. From what I’ve heard from Hispanic commentaries, there should be a lot more Mexican rapists in that country’s prisons. We hear a lot about the Mexican government’s rampant corruption. I suspect that Mexico would be better off with a ten percent increase in its prison population from the pool of government officials alone.
    Before you feel sorry for our prison population, you should probably be sure that these prisoners you lament are not deserving of their sentences. Just referring to facts and criticizing our legal system and not examining the underlying reasons for our incarceration rates is not only unproductive, but unethically shallow journalism. Blaming the government is simplistic and perhaps unfair. Comparing simple and sensational statistics between different countries to gratuitously provoke readers others to anger is something you should refrain from. Your readers deserve better.

  • Horace
    June 24, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Too many in prison in the U.S and too few in Mexico. Where would a woman be better off?
    Mexico: Rape Victims Denied Access to Abortion
    Rape victims in Mexico face hostile officials who actively prevent women from accessing legal abortion services, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW). The report, “The Second Assault: Obstructing Access to Legal Abortion after Rape in Mexico,” details the aggressive ways in which state agencies discourage and delay women’s abortions. Abortion is criminalized in Mexico except in cases of rape, but many women are not aware of the laws and are lied to about what they must do to access an abortion, according to HRW. Some women are threatened, others are told they can only have an abortion if they arrange for a coffin and hearse for the fetus, and others face interminable delays. As a result of the heavy-handed intimidation tactics, many women risk their lives and health by turning to back-alley abortions. “Pregnant rape victims are essentially assaulted twice,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “First by the perpetrators who raped them, and then by officials who ignore them, insult them and deny them a legal abortion.”
    Furthermore, rapes are believed to be widely underreported. While, according to HRW, the government figure is 120,000 rapes per year, HRW estimates that there may be nearly 1 million rapes in Mexico each year. Mexican law offers insufficient protections for victims of rape and incest, as marital rape was tolerated until recently, and incest is understood as “consensual,” resulting in equal punishments for both parties. Nonconsensual incest is supposed to be prosecuted as rape, but HRW found evidence that prosecutors frequently do not do so, even when victims are obviously underage (the age of consent in most of Mexico is 12). The combination of lax sexual assault laws and government pressure not to abort amounts to a human rights violation, said Roth, adding, “The Mexican government needs to ensure that rape victims do not have to endure dangerous back-alley abortions or imposed pregnancies.”

  • Evelyn
    June 25, 2008 at 1:44 am

    The other side of the coin of imprisonment is the fact that there are countries in this world that have poor records in enforcing their laws, that justice is hard to find and there should be a larger prison populations than exist. For example, how likely is it that a Mexican woman would find justice in her country’s court system for the being the victim of the crime of rape. From what I’ve heard from Hispanic commentaries, there should be a lot more Mexican rapists in that country’s prisons. We hear a lot about the Mexican government’s rampant corruption. I suspect that Mexico would be better off with a ten percent increase in its prison population from the pool of government officials alone.
    Finally something we both agree on. Take out the corrupt gov. officials in Mexico and throw them to the sharks. Then do the same thing here with those who have propelled them to power. Let Mexican Indians rule their country not European Spaniards.
    Before you feel sorry for our prison population, you should probably be sure that these prisoners you lament are not deserving of their sentences. Just referring to facts and criticizing our legal system and not examining the underlying reasons for our incarceration rates is not only unproductive, but unethically shallow journalism. Blaming the government is simplistic and perhaps unfair. Comparing simple and sensational statistics between different countries to gratuitously provoke readers others to anger is something you should refrain from. Your readers deserve better.
    I dont believe all these people belong in jail. Big Bucks are being made by Bush cronies.
    The U.S. Gulag Prison System
    The shame of a nation and a crime against humanity
    By Stephen Lendman
    No, not the one you think, outrageous as it is.? I’m referring to the US prison system that’s with no exaggeration about as shockingly abusive as the gulag abroad.? It qualifies for that label by its size alone – more than 2.1 million as of June, 2004 and growing larger by about 900 new inmates every week.? Blacks (mostly poor and disadvantaged) especially are affected.? While they make up just 12.3% of the population, they account for half the prison population, and their numbers there have grown fivefold in the last 25 years.? Hispanics (also poor) account for another 15%.
    About half of those incarcerated are there for non-violent offenses, and half of those (500,000) are drug related.? But while blacks make up 15% of ilicit drug users, they account for 37% of drug arrests, 42% of drug offenders in federal prison and 62% in state prisons.? And Human Rights Watch reported in 2000 that in one third of the states 75% of all prisoners for drug-related offenses are black.? In my home state of Illinois they reported the number to be an astonishing 89%, a total exceed by only one other state. Further, in a so-called free society, below the radar are hundreds of political prisoners, mostly people of color, there only because they represent a threat to the state from their pursuit of justice for their people if they were free.
    Today the US shamelessly has more people behind bars than any other nation including China with over 4 times our population.? And things have become especially repressive against those in society least able to defend themselves including immigrants of color and our newest head of the queue demon – Muslims.? The Bush administration has made a bad situation far worse taking full advantage of their fear-induced “permanent state of war” and sham “global war on terrorism” to target all those seen as a potential threat to their plan for global dominance and full control at home.
    Taken as a whole, this is a national disgrace and outrage, but the effect on those targeted is pretty much below the radar, unreported and undiscussed in the mainstream.? Who cares about a couple of million mostly poor, mostly people of color (including immigrants, many of whom are undocumented and have no legal rights at all) languishing behind bars out of sight and out of mind.? When any of this is discussed, it’s to let the (voter eligible) public know our political leaders are “tough on crime” and working to keep us safe.? Safe from whom or what? In the words of a great world class journalist, that kind of talk is “what comes out of the rear end of a bull.”? What’s really going on has little to do with public safety but lots to do with controlling a justifiably restive population of poor and desperate people, the inability of those people to afford a proper defense in our so-called criminal justice system stacked against them, and a growing opportunity for big business to profit on human misery.? It’s a kind of modern day slavery – a growing state and privately run criminal injustice and prison industry using human beings as their product.? In this land of opportunity and the “free market”, all things (and people) are commodities to be exploited for profit.

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