PRISON SLAVERY ABOLITION UNITED FRONT PLATFORM

By by Lee Wood |

This 2008 Abolitionist Plank is provisional. We humbly seek and request like-minded recommendations and participation. Tell us what additional structural, material conditions, and/or points you believe are necessary for abolishing slavery. prisonslavery [at] yahoo.com

· 1. Removal of the EXCEPTION for slavery and involuntary servitude in the
Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and in the
various State Constitutions with the return of citizenship, labor,
economic, and human rights.

Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution:
(12/18/1865)

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, EXCEPT AS A PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME WHEREOF THE PARTY SHALL HAVE BEEN DULY CONVICTED, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” (Caps added)

To Read:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the
United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

· 2. Abolish the slave master’s ultimate punishment, the Death Penalty.
· 3. Immediate removal of Mentally Ill Prisoners to appropriate Care,
Habilitation facilities and programs.
· 4. Union Scale Wage, and Union Worker Rights for prisoners and guards.
· 5. Abolition of ALL for-profit Contract Lease Systems for prisoner, convict,
inmate labor; and other schemes to profit from the misery of
human suffering.
· 6. Abolition of all State, and Federal For-Profit Prisons, Corrections
Contracts & Services.
· 7. Abolish ALL Slavery, including all slave torture, punishments, negative
conditions, institutions; and abolition of both economic systems and classes of both slave and slaveholder. (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=24877&Cr=Ban)
· 8. Immediate return of the Right to Vote for All Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners.
· 9. Prison Abolition with Community Reconstruction, Habilitation,
Emancipation, and Reentry programs.
· 10. Abolition of War as slavery.
· 11. Abolition of Poverty as slavery.
· 12. The removal of all vestiges of slavery and the slave trade, and all
vestiges of slavery or involuntary servitude as a punishment.
· 13. Reparation Legislation and/or Legislation for Reparation of past, present
and future convicts/prisoners/inmates and their families who have suffered and/or continue to suffer under slavery and/or involuntary servitude…as a punishment…”

HISTORY

Ninety-six years ago, the National Committee on Prison Labor (NCPL) presented the following opening and defining statement in Prison Labor (1912) by Ernest Stagg Whitin:

“CHRISTIANITY has brought no greater change into the world than the overthrow of slavery. The greatest war of modern times had human slavery as its inciting cause, yet behind the dark bastilles we call our prisons, penitentiaries, reformatories, workhouses and refuges there still hides the enemy of our social progress, the economically vicious slave system. The abolition of the evils inherent in this system, comprising as they do the exploitation of the helpless, the perversion of state functions, the gnawing of graft and the corrupting of politics, appears no limited task, even to the most light-hearted of reformers; to undertake to work out the reconstruction, the peaceful reformation of this system throughout the length and breadth of this land is at least to grapple with fundamental issues.”

That same year, the NCPL distributed their 10-cent, 25 page pamphlet, Prison Labor in the Party Platform of 1911-1912, by F. S. Deibler.

Three basic planks in their platform were widely accepted and implemented:
· “The abolition of the CONTRACT (for-profit lease) SYSTEM of employing convicts,”
· “The payment of the earnings of the prisoner to his dependants, or… to the
prisoner himself at the expiration of his term.”
· In place of the contract system some form of state use is recommended, as the building of public roads, or the production of such articles as are used by the state, county or municipal institutions.”

Note: The context of this third recommendation, for the “state use” system (of working prisoner labor) was presented as an alternative to the most vicious, vile and murderous “convict lease system” where corporate contractors would routinely beat and work their convict slaves to death. The high morbidity rates were so extremely high that both the general public and organized labor united behind the alternative “state use” labor system.

This temporary change was a great victory for humanitarian, labor, slavery abolition, and reconstruction goals. However, over short time periods, most of these successes (within the various state prison systems) have now reverted back to newly reenacted convict/inmate lease systems in 30 plus states with their ‘gnawing sound of graft’, and the present “corrupting of politics”.

The practice of prison slavery’s forced and/or coerced labor continues today, and rather than being a new form of slavery or for-profit corporate structure, it is rather an alternative parallel to chattel slavery.

The point is, it is not new. Even with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution in 1865, the EXCEPTION for convict/inmate/prisoner slavery existed back in the Ordinance of 1787. Today, slavery and involuntary servitude…”to punishment crime” is at a minimum 221 years old.
This history of the “convict” lease system shows it was halted by the NCPL and replaced by the “state use” system. Now it’s back, (not that it ever completely left) in true slave master profit making forms. This blog article illustrates the point.
(http://www.endgame.org.uk/?p=42) “Thanks to prison labor, the United States is once again an attractive location for investment in work that was designed for Third World labor markets. A company that operated a maquiladora (assembly plant in Mexico near the border) closed down its operations there and relocated to San Quentin State Prison in California. In Texas, a factory fired its 150 workers and contracted the services of prisoner-workers from the private Lockhart Texas prison, where circuit boards are assembled for companies like IBM and Compaq.
Oregon State Representative Kevin Mannix recently urged Nike to cut its production in Indonesia and bring it to his state, telling the shoe manufacturer that “there won’t be any transportation costs; we’re offering you competitive prison labor (here).”
So we have an economic system that impoverishes the masses with little or no safety net, criminalizes those who turn to drugs (including self-medicating by those who can’t afford the high price of medicines), locks people up for life if they commit 3 crimes no matter how minor, and then uses those prisoners as cheap labour for corporations.

Land of the free, huh?”
(Land of the Slave, Home of the Brave.)

CONCLUSIONS

While the Inside Prison Slave Community urgently needs outside community and legal interventions on their behalf; they are likewise concerned for us – their outside family, friends, and loved ones, community members, and their outside world. They oppose war as slavery where innocent civilians are intentionally targeted. They/we oppose poverty and unemployment. Together, we further seek to abolish poverty as economic slavery; and unite organized and unorganized labor: domestic workers, farm worker, female slave, child slave soldiers, sweat-shop slave labor, military involuntary servitude — anywhere slavery exists is where we seek to unite with other Abolitionists, Peace and Poverty organizations, Slaves and Workers.

We further seek to unite with all likeminded organizations in developing a United Front to advance these platform points or planks. The potential strength and resolve for great reconstruction was straight when Whitin asked:

“What are the conditions in your community ?
What are you doing to improve them ?
Do you realize that as a citizen of a state that continues the slavery of
its convicts you join in the responsibility for its existence ?”

With this writing, we follow the NCPL precedent by presenting this list of provisional United Front Platform Planks to Abolish Prison Slavery with it’s labor relations of involuntary servitude “as a punishment”; and to Abolish ALL Slavery.

Following NCPL’s example, this Plank will be presented to a variety of community, like minded, religious, constitutional, civil and human rights, anti war, anti poverty, death penalty abolitionists, labor organizations; and various Democratic, Green, Socialist, Progressive, Libertarian, Constitution and other Platforms for 2008 National, State, and International implementation.

Towards Abolition,
CAPS
prisonslavery [at] yahoo.com

ATTACHMENTS AND SOURCES:

1. United Nations: eradicating modern forms of slavery
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=24877&Cr=Ban

2.Prison Labor in the Party Platform of 1911-1912,
http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0885– 173%28191311%294%3A4%3C627%3APLITPP%3E2.0.CO%3B2- %23

3.Prison Labor,
http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=1548-7237%28191207%292%3A4%3C159%3APL%3E2.0.CO%3B2-8

4. (http://www.endgame.org.uk/?p=42)

RECOMMENDED READING:

5. SJR 8212 and the Prison Slave Plantation: Dismantling the Profit Motive for Incarceration, (http://www.washblog.com/story/2007/10/20/122942/79) for-profit corporations in Washington, and in other states, are exposed to show the threatening convict/inmate Lease System. Lea Zengage, Organizer with Justice Works (http://www.justiceworks.info/)

6. Washington State’s New Convict/Inmate Lease System Legislation (passed)
http://www.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/2007-08/Pdf/Bill%20Reports/Senate%20Final/8212.FBR.pdf

7. The prison industry in the United States: big business
or a new form of slavery?
by Vicky Pelaez, Global Research, March 10, 2008
El Diario-La Prensa, New York Note: The above two powerful articles, by Lea Zengage/Justice Works, and Vicky Pelaez/ Global Research, are powerful, noteworthy and deserving of respect in this arena of knowledge and struggle. Their good works need greater exposure.
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1. U.N.

On Int’l Day, UN chief calls for eradicating modern forms of slavery
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 3 (APP): UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for redoubling efforts to wipe out the contemporary forms of the practice of slavery under which millions of people around the world continue to suffer.“Millions of our fellow human beings continue to live as contemporary slaves, victims of abominable practices like human trafficking, forced labour and sexual exploitation,” Ban said in a message marking the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, observed annually on December 2.Countless children are forced to become soldiers, work in sweat shops or are sold by desperate families, and women are brutalized and traded like commodities, he added.“The fact that these atrocities take place in today’s world should fill us all with shame,” Ban stated, adding that, above all, “the needs of the enslaved must inspire us to action.”He stressed that no individual, community or country can remain silent in the face of this scourge, calling for action at the national, regional and global levels.In this regard, he noted that the UN Human Rights Council this year established a new Special Procedures mandate and appointed a Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery. “This mandate will play a leading role in confronting slavery in close collaboration with UN Member States, our civil society partners, and victims’ groups,” he stated.Ban also emphasized the need to understand why and how slavery is so common in so ‘civilized’ age. “We have to recognize that endemic poverty, social exclusion and widespread discrimination allow this practice to fester,” he said. “Slavery’s practitioners thrive on the desperate, the dispossessed and the disadvantaged.”He called for reaffirming the inherent dignity of all men, women and children, adding “let us redouble our efforts to build societies in which slavery truly is a term for the history books.”end“Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” — Benito Mussolini http://www.publiceye.org/fascist/corporatism.html