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  • The Historical Role of Prisons as a Kolonizing Tool, and Empire Building
    Posted by breakthechains (Friday February 14 2003 @ 01:55PM PST) views: 211 [Prison Abolition]
    Prison Abolition The Historical Role of Prisons as a Kolonizing Tool, and Empire Building
    By American Indian Political Prisoner John Two Names

    Prison is, and always has been from its inception, a means and tool for economic, political, and social control of the masses. It and the very systems it serves - governments, corporations, kourts, and the law - have their origins in the fabric of Western Civilization and can be dated back to the fourth century and beyond.

    To combat the practice of mass incineration, one must know the his-story and roles that imprisonment has played throughout the ages. The word “imprisonment” here is used to define the imposed, involuntary or physical confinement, and includes practices such as public sale4into slavery, publicly imposed forced labor, the exhibiting of offenders to public shame (such as the stocks used in colonial Amerikkkan villages) and exile, banishment, and deportation to a remote place.

    Two of the earliest accounts of imprisonment are found in the very pillars that make up the lexicon of Western Society and our modern criminal just-us system, the Bible, and the philosophical and social arrangements of ancient Rome. The Bible consists of seventeen accounts of imprisonment, as described above, twelve being outside of Hebrew society proper. One of the earliest accounts incarcerations can be found in the story of Joseph, the Hebrew slave in the book of Genesis. Joseph, as the story is told, was sent to prison by his master for suspicion of sleeping with his wife. He was taken to a place of confinement where the kind held foreigners, spies (including Joseph’s brother), prisoners of war, and servants derelict in their duties (Genesis 39:20-40:5). Because the bible makes mention of the captives being forced to labor, these facilities were most likely located near fields or granaries where they would be forced to grind corn, wheat, and so on, as evidenced in the imprisonment of Sampson (Judges 16:21).

    The term and length of imprisonment was indefinite with the exception being those awaiting other punishments. This is most notable in Numbers 15:32-36, where a man was held in custody until being stoned to death. This now bring us to the forms of punishment so inherent in biblical text. In Joshua 7:25-26, the punishment for gathering wood on the Sabbath was burning, using a method of forcing the mouth open and pouring molten lead into the stomach. Decapitation is found in Deuteronomy 13:13-17, and strangulation, beatings, and mutilations were also heavily favored forms of punishment.

    Up until 509 BCE, Rome was ruled by kings. In 509, a Republic was formed in which the Kings were replaced by Magistrates. This Republic directed the expansion of military, social, economic, and political power throughout what is now Italy, the Mediterranean regions, Near Eastern countries, and Southern and Central Europe. The expansion of Rome brought with it an extreme wealth taken from hose lands it invaded, and placed social and economic strains upon the peoples it kolonized. By the first century BCE, the Republic was replaced by a single man and supported by a large imperial bureaucracy and massive army. All emperors, with the exception of a few, were Christians. The Roman influence is still felt to this day.

    The most concise statement regarding rationale for punishment in Greece comes not from the legal literature of Athenian Criminal Law, but in the remarks and the writings of Plato. In a dialogue between himself and Socrates, Plato observes that, “...the proper office of all punishment is two fold: he who is rightfully punished ought either to become better and profit from it, or he ought to be made an example to his fellows, that they may see what he suffers, and fear to suffer the like...“ From this it is gathered that from its earliest origin, punishment was used to strike fear in the hearts of the people in order to condition them to accept, support, and be a part in the whole of Roman society. Plato continues: “...they who've been guilty of the worst crimes, and are incurable by reason of their crimes, are made examples; as they are incurable they get no good for themselves, but others get good when they behold them enduring forever the most terrible and painful and fearful sufferings as the penalty for their sins - there they are, hanging up in the prison house of the world below, just as examples, a spectacle and warning to all unrighteous men who come thither. (Plato’s “Gorgias,” 525 CE).

    It seems ironic that Socrates, a man condemned to die, after his well known trial for the crime of “corrupting youthful minds” and “introducing and believing in new gods,” other then those “recognized” by the Roman Empire, was imprisoned (due in part to a delay caused by the Athenian Religious Calendar) until he took his life by drinking poison - a form of execution popular in those times - compulsory suicide (“Apology,“ 37C).

    The Bible and the Roman Empire, which by “fate” were intertwined, became the groundwork and underpinning on the “right and just” punishment for “criminal” activity. Roman Civil Law was replaced by Athenian Criminal Codes, which took the transgression against individuals as a transgression against the $tate. The punishment for these crimes being slavery or death.

    This practice continued up until the European Middle Ages. Long after the fall of the Roman Empire, the practice of death for a number of trivial crimes was the punishment. As in the case of Rome, the Germanic $tate$ left retribution up to individuals. Fines were imposed, and if not paid, one could be subjected to involuntary servitude or slavery for his debts.

    It wasn’t until about the 16th century that it was realized that instead of killing those deemed criminal an enormous amount of revenue could made off of offenders. Prior to then, incarceration wasn’t used except for holding one until being tortured or executed. The dungeons of Europe’s ruling class was the places of confinement. The reasoning behind the change came after Europe’s population began to expand due to invasions. The consequences of this were that the population of poor and peasants also expanded. The aristocracy, wishing to continue labor exploitation, viewed these “beggars” as a direct threat to the status quo. Consequently, the ruling class expelled the lower classes into forests where they became vagabonds and wanderers of the countryside. Still viewed as a threat, capitol punishment witnessed an enormous increase for the crimes of “begging,” being without a home, unemployment, and stealing. The 17th century rolled around, and the population of undesirable began to diminish. It was at this same time that the markets were opened due to the invasions of the Amerikkkas, Africa, and Asia. Europe was found in a severe shortage of laborers. People were encouraged to raise large families, by being given tax breaks, and there was an upsurge in child labor.

    It isn’t by coincidence that these beggars and vagabonds being hanged, quartered, mutilated and put on display on the scaffolds were now being sentenced to “work-houses.” It goes without saying that the benefits of using convict labor was realized by the “enlightened” ruling classes.

    “Houses of Corrections” were established so that the European aristocracies could continue to exploit the lower classes and uphold the domination handed down from the time of the Romans. This gave rise in the practice of involuntary servitude to individuals of the ruling class and, eventually, chattel slavery.

    The descendent of Rome, and Europe, the United $tate$ of amerikkka, continued the kolonizing process, first administered upon itself, decimating the Indigenous Nations of this hemisphere. After the groundwork was set, a massive slave trade was put set, a massive slave trade was put into play which transported Afrikan peoples from their homelands to build the Empirical outposts of the European motherland.

    The abolition of slavery came after the Emancipation Proclamation was set forth in 1863 by then President Abraham Lincoln. However, this was not because the ruling class got a dose of morality, but because the U$A was caught in the midst of a war with the southern states. The “freeing” of the slaves was a military strategy used to weaken the Konfederate economy, which relied solely on free slave labor, as is evidenced in the proclamation, in which only those slaves held in state that were in "rebellion" were freed. All other slaves, estimated at 800,000 were unaffected.

    In 1865, the Konfederacy lost its Civil War as General Robert E. Lee surrendered. In November, just seven months later, the southern $tate$ passed “Black Code Laws” in which the newly “freed” slaves were targeted and imposed with extreme penalties for crimes such as vagrancy, insulting or obscene gestures, curfew violations and seditious speeches. Under such law$, imprisonment was a norm.

    To make things legit the U$ ratified the 13th Amendment, and “abolished” slavery, except as punishment for a crime. Some would claim mere coincidence, but that can hardly be the case since on February 8, 1864, almost two years prior, a Massachusetts Representative, Charles Sumner, submitted a joint resolution (SB 24) to amend the Constitution: “Everywhere within the limits of the U$, and of each state or territory thereof, all persons are equal before the law, so that no person can hold another as a slave.“ Clearly, the ruling class had had business as usual in mind, as the 13th Amendment does not abolish slavery, but legalized it!

    Reconstruction of the south was done by forced inmate labor. Many times these inmates were leased out to private entrepreneurs who then to use their private enterprises. These convicted slaves, 75% of whom were black, were severely mistreated, as the person leasing them had no value interest in them, as they might if they were his own.

    From this comes our reality of today. We are now faced with what is called the Prison Industrial Complex, a network of criminal law enforcement agencies, kourts, and prisoncrats. Prison has always been big business, but its most recent burst onto the global economic market after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the demise of the Cold War. Billions of dollars were pumped into military spending. No longer had being justified for the “enemy” had been beaten, a “new” economic incentive needed to be found. Enter the “Drug War.”

    Currently, there are over two million people encapsulated within the Iron-Houses of Amerikkka. The majority are Afrikan, Latino (a), and Indigenous peoples – the most oppressed, marginalized, and therefore the most rebellious of the social stratum today. It is a continuation of the Roman Empire, inspired by the Biblical mandates to punish, with the foundation anchored in the foundation of the almighty dollar. In every prison across the country, you will find it to be overcrowded, full to capacity, and beyond. Many, and in most cases, all of the former practices are still employed: forced labor, convict leasing, $tae sponsored murder, inhumane treatment, and the list goes on.

    Private enterprise has moved in to cash in on the warehousing of humans. Private prisons, which can only be viewed as modern day torture chambers or gladiator schools are booming. Phone companies have monopolized on incarcerated person’s need to keep family ties in place, or build those that were torn asunder. Fields of produce are abundant around the majority of prisons, not to feed those imprisoned, but to sell in lucrative agricultural markets. Industries have been moved in behind the walls, taking away peoples jobs so that exploitation and profit can continue. In short, the modern day prison is nothing more then an advanced tool of kolonization, and reflects the conscience of the majority it serves. It is $lave manufacturing; plantationism at its finest.

    To confront this epidemic, one must be forced to study and eradicate kolonization. As evidenced in this article, prisons are slavery and empires of every kind, at all times throughout his-story, were built on the backs of slaves. Europe first kolonized itself and then moved on to the rest of the world. To try to tear down the prison without first destroying its root source is futile.

    The time to act is now. The place is right here. There is a lot of work to be done in eradicating prisons and its benefactors, but to do so we must acknowledge its source, and educate and confront it at all times. It is in the spirit of this, and of my ancestors, that this is written.

    Andy J. Riendeau (John Two-Names) #193786, Dorm A-2-145, Elmore Correctional Facility, PO Box 8, Elmore, AL 36025 U$A

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