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View Diary: On Angola, America's Racist Slave History is Celebrated (59 comments)

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  •  13th Amendment watch (1+ / 0-)
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    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.
    And yet, our sense of moral repugnance is not there. Given our country's history of human exploitation through slavery, it seems almost impossible that we'd use a former slave plantation as the site where we punish people through slave-like labor.
    Of course there's no moral repugnance; because there's no real equivalence between imprisonment of a limited term for crime and a lifetime of servitude because someone kidnapped you from your home country.

    Are we to spare black prisoners labor imposed as a general sentence because their ancestors may have been enslaved?  That's ridiculous.  

    •  Maybe I'm too idealistic, but the diary feels (9+ / 0-)

      sensible to me.

       there's no real equivalence between imprisonment of a limited term for crime and a lifetime of servitude  

      A lifetime is a lifetime:

        Recent numbers suggest that only 12% of men who come to Angola will ever breathe free air again.  

      A lifetime is a lifetime,
      by whichever means a man is held prisoner,
      for his entire lifetime,
      or his lifetime starting at 20 something years old,
      the age at which I suppose most of them are convicted.

       Are we to spare black prisoners labor imposed as a general sentence because their ancestors may have been enslaved?  That's ridiculous.    

      To avoid the feeling
      of repeating abuse
      long considered unwise and cruel,

      We should spare all prisoners hard labor.

      How can we tell ourselves
      that hard labor by prisoners
      is not slave labor?

    •  Well that's not really the point (16+ / 0-)

      Although I could present a compelling argument that forced prisoner labor is wrong and should be scrapped in favor of a system that leads to lower levels of recidivism.

      There is a difference in forcing prisoners to work and forcing them to work in former slave plantations to produce profits for corporate prison owners. Because this creates perverse incentives for the people who make criminal laws and enforce those laws. When prisoners are the oil that lubricates a private profit center, we're incentivizing a system that seeks more prisoners rather than more justice.

      The subsidiary point is that our willingness to subject our (mostly) black prison population to a setting that houses the worst of American horrors is a sign of how unashamed we are of our slave history. The title of this diary reflects that, and I believe it to be a central point here.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 07:09:14 AM PST

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    •  You have have a point, built on a flawed (5+ / 0-)


      The assumption that all of the men are lawfully convicted. No doubt some of them are.  I'd even venture a guess that many are guilty of crimes, perhaps not the ones for which they were convicted.

      But the number of false convictions are astonishing, many who are black, and false convictions happen even in liberal states like New York, can you accept that some of those men are probably innocent, and may be exonerated, if there case ever draws the attention of a talented and dedicated civil rights team?

      And on the other hand, in the same state, we have a medical team who decided to euthanize more than a dozen people after they had previously made a flawed triage decision.

      A group of middle class medical professionals collectively decided that they could break the law and decide for themselves what is justifiable homicide. None of them are in prison, working on a farm for the rest of their lives.

      •  Everyone in there is lawfully convicted (1+ / 0-)
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        as it stands. That's what we do in our judicial system. You have to be lawfully convicted to be sentenced to anything.  Factually, some of these people may indeed be innocent and that is unfortunate, but that's not really the issue here, as even if we did alternative sentencing, you'd still have false convictions.

    •  Yes, an excellent defense of the indefensible. (4+ / 0-)

      Well played, well played.

      Now, explain to me again how Rodney King was asking for it.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 09:32:06 AM PST

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    •  So, "slavery lite" is OK because: Legal and not (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mythatsme, bigjacbigjacbigjac

      chattel bought and sold. OK. treated as such with a harsh regime that makes life worse than that in other prisons is acceptable?... is there a minimum level of decent treatment in prisons? And if not why not. And the regime at Angola is below what the minimum set of standards should be in an advanced country.

      A prisoner should not be at risk for worse punishment than the crime deserves. Prisoners also die under suspicious circumstances there and as a rule these kinds of deaths are blamed on other inmates... regardless of whether it is true or not. At some point "Cruel and unusual punishments" will be applied or should applied without labeling what should be "unusual" as perfectly acceptable because they make it "usual".

      Does a sentence these days whether in Angola or anywhere else effectively include inflicting physical abuse, pain, unhealthy conditions, overwork, being at risk for being raped, severely injured or killed?

      A de facto death sentence or effectively a life sentence of involuntary servitude should not be part of the punishment if that is not the legal intention of the court. Why are institutional "enhancements"  to the punishment that go well beyond the intentions of the law allowed and condoned?

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 01:14:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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