Bessonov Nicolay. Girl in a prison. Water-colour. 1987.
Some States in the U.S. are now billing inmates for their stay in jail.
So how do you like the possibility of being billed past your ability to pay? If you cant find a way to pay the debt for staying in jail (and have no-one who is willing to pay for you) you go back to jail where the debt gets larger and the cycle never ends.
And it can all happen for the sin of a joint.
You can now be, as a friend says:
"(possibly falsely) accused by a flawed system, imprisoned, buggered, beaten, quite possible strung out AND have to pay for the privilege. Then when you get out you can't vote or get a job."
Your relatives can also be punished for your sins as well, because if an inmate cannot afford to pay for his stay the burden of payment falls to his or her loved ones (if he or she has any). If the persons relatives cannot afford to pay it will, inevitably, result in them being in debt up to their necks.
These people are not being rehabilitated, they are now chattel to be exploited.
Even the innocent, who are imprisoned awaiting trial are billed ( a "booking fee"), so both the guilty and the innocent are exploited.
Now include the fact that the State can, for drug offenses, freeze and then drain your bank account, reposess and sell your car and your house (under the pretence that ALL of your earthly belongings are the result of drug trafficing). So now that your money's been taken by the state, how can you afford to pay the prison "company"? You better hope you have a well off family, or else some of them may be joining you for failing to pay your debt.
Then as a direct result of the privatisation of prisons in the states, the prison "companies" need to make a profit from your incarceration. These companies will not only bill you for your stay, but many force the inmates to participate in work programs where the company "rents" the inmates to other organisations to provide services. I would imagine that if things continue they way they are, several prisons will bill the prisoners AND in isolation from their prison "debt" force them to participate in work programs, .
To add injury to injury if you happen to get busted in Kansas the drug offense can also be tax evasion. "Tax evasion?" you ask, "how so?", well in Kansas the state is now taxing drugs with stamps (to be purchases anon, though how this works I am not sure), if you dont have your stamps you have to pay an additional charge. How likely do you think drug dealers are to expose themselves to the law by paying an "illegal drug stamp tax".
Its not about justice anymore, it's about profit.
Talk about things going to fuck.
Who wants to go on vacation to the states now?
(It has been a while since this article was posted by the times, and you may now have to pay a fee to view the whole article. When, I ask myself, is the NYT going to adopt a sensible policy for access to their archives? As it is a site for profit, perhaps the NYT might consider introducing a system like Salons' "watch an add and get free access for a day" should be adopted.)
A variation of this piece was sent out on FatherCrow's now mostly defunct mailing list on 13th of August 2004, but due to its nature I thought it bears repeating on the blog.
Peace and Hope