Five Stunning Facts About America's Prison System You Haven't Heard

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Sean Kerrigan via SeanKerrigan.com,

We’ve done several exposés on the prison system in America, including The Prison System Runs Amok, Expands at Frightening Pace (Sept 6, 2012) and Selling the American Dream is the Biggest Market of All (Sept. 30, 2013), but there’s still much more to be said about this topic. America’s massive prison system is creating a long list of unintended consequences, some of which will effect all of us in the coming years. To help explain just how bad things have gotten, we’ve compiled this list of the most stunning facts and statistics on the America’s prison system today. 

1) Because of its prison system, the US is the only country in the world where more men are raped than women.

According to the 2011 report from Department of Justice, nearly one in 10 prisoners report having been raped or sexually assaulted by other inmates, staff or both. According to a revised report from the US Department of Justice, there were 216,000 victims of rape in US prisons in 2008. That is roughly 600 a day or 25 every hour.

Those numbers are of victims, not instances, which would be much higher since many victims were reportedly assaulted multiple times throughout the year. Excluding prison rapes, there about 200,000 rapes per year in America, and roughly 91 percent of those victims are women. If these numbers are accurate, this means that America is the only country in the world where more men are raped than women.

Even if the number of unreported rapes outside of prison were substantially larger than most experts believe, the fact that many victims in prison tend to be raped repeatedly would indicate that rape against men is at least comparable to rape against women.

Kendell Spruce was one such inmate, sentenced to six years for forging a check for which he hoped to purchase crack cocaine. In a National Prison Rape Elimination Commission testimony, Spruce said:

“I was raped by at least 27 different inmates over a nine month period. I don’t have to tell you that it was the worst nine months of my life… [I] was sent into protective custody. But I wasn’t safe there either. They put all kinds of people in protective custody, including sexual predators. I was put in a cell with a rapist who had full-blown AIDS. Within two days, he forced me to give him oral sex and anally raped me.”

Spruce was diagnosed with “full blown AIDS” in 2002 and died three years later.

2) There are more black slaves in America today than in 1850.

This sounds outrageous. How can there be more slaves in America today than before the Civil War? First, consider there are more black men in prison today than there were slaves in 1850, according to Michelle Alexander, an Ohio State law professor, who cited the last census immediately before the Civil War. This comparison not account for changes in population, but the statistic is accurate in terms of sheer numbers .

Next, consider the 13th Amendment to the constitution which reads:

“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.”

Note there is an exception to the otherwise total abolition of slavery. Those suffering “punishment for a crime” can still be constitutionally enslaved. In other words, everyone convicted of a crime is at least potentially a slave.  The Supreme Court has not ruled on whether or not they technically are slaves, but practically it is obvious they are.

Slavery has different definitions, but almost all include the following characteristics: 1) A slave is forced to work under threat of physical or psychological threat. 2) A slave is considered owned property, an asset or commodity which can be sold. Finally, a slave has restrictions on their liberties, including freedom of movement. Right or wrong, a US prison inmate easily meets this criteria.

Prisoners can be denied communication with their fellow inmates, or forbidden from voluntary associations including union membership. Obviously, they are denied their freedom to leave the prison, but they are also forced to work unpaid or for extremely low wages. Prisoners are effectively being bought and sold to private corporations who are using them as cheep labor for private gains. There is also a market for younger and healthier prisoners because their healthcare cost make them less expensive to hold. Private prison contracts allow the transfer of prisoners to state run institutions.

If this is not slavery, then what is?

3) Solitary confinement, widely used in American prisons, is regarded internationally as torture.

This form of punishment has become increasingly common in the US since it was introduced as a part of America’s then new “Supermax” prison system which began growing in the mid-1980s. Prisoners held in solitary confinement are typically kept in a small, windowless cell for 23 hours a day, with minimal access to lawyers, family and guards. The number of prisoners currently in solitary is estimated to be around 80,000, though the number is growing faster than the overall prison population, indicating the method is becoming increasingly normalized.

Solitary confinement is used against a variety of offenders, including those picked up for immigration violations, which is a misdemeanor or the legal equivalent of a reckless driving ticket. Others are placed in solitary confinement “for their own protection” since they may be a target of other violent inmates. There are few regulations prohibiting its use or duration.

The Sun Times reports that Former US Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who is currently serving a prisons sentence for breaking campaign finance laws, was removed from the general prison population and placed in solitary confinement for 5 days after “advising other inmates in North Carolina about their rights in prison, according to the source, who said a guard took exception to that.”

Human rights groups have called the practice torture. The Center for Constitutional Rights argues:

“Researchers have demonstrated that prolonged solitary confinement causes a persistent and heightened state of anxiety and nervousness, headaches, insomnia, lethargy or chronic tiredness, nightmares, heart palpitations, and fear of impending nervous breakdowns. Other documented effects include obsessive ruminations, confused thought processes, an oversensitivity to stimuli, irrational anger, social withdrawal, hallucinations, violent fantasies, emotional flatness, mood swings, chronic depression, feelings of overall deterioration, as well as suicidal ideation.”

This was known as far back as the 1890s, when the Supreme Court originally ruled on the practice. They noted then:

“A considerable number of the prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition, from which it was next to impossible to arouse them, and others became violently insane; others still committed suicide, while those who stood the ordeal better were not generally reformed, and in most cases did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of any subsequent service to the community.”

Despite this admission, the practice itself wasn’t ruled on and the method is still used today.

4) The food served in prisons is often stale, moldy, under-cooked, unhealthy and scarce.

In the 1940s, prison food used to be good, offering a wide variety of options. Today, they call it “shit on a shingle.” The reality is not much worse. State budget cuts and the trend to privatize prisons and prison services has substantially cut food variety and quality.

Incentives to cut costs exist at the institutional and individual level. In Alabama, state law allows law enforcement to pocket leftover funds after feeding prisoners provided they can still provide for their basic needs. The incentive to cut on quality and quantity resulted in the arrest and sentencing of Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett who kept over $200,000 in funds intended for prisoners. The judge concluded that Bartlett had failed to provide “a nutritionally adequate diet.”

In April 2008, 277 prisoners at Florida’s Santa Rosa Correctional Institution became sick after eating chili. The Tampa Bay Times repoted the Philadelphia based food provider, Aramark, “landed the state contract in 2001 and is currently paid $2.67 per inmate for three meals a day. It serves about 60,000 inmates across Florida and contends it has saved the state $100-million in food costs.” The chili story is not an anomaly; it has been repeated across the country including New Jersey, where Aramark also provides meals.

This video shows some of what prisoners in Alabama are forced to eat — rotten and  uncooked meat. It’s difficult to hear, but skip to 0:59 to get a good view of what the meat looks like.

Even when the food isn’t rotten, that doesn’t mean it is particularly appetizing. Occasionally, the food tastes so bad that it has been considered “unconstitutional” in some states. States like Illinois and Pennsylvania feed inmates a food called “Nutraloaf,” a mix of raw vegetables shaped like a meatloaf.  In this video, the staff of the Glens Fall Post Star newspaper taste test the block of food. They conclude, “One bite is one thing, but if you have to live on that, that is awful.”

Sickness and hunger are a common and increasingly accepted part of being a prisoner in America. In addition to stale and rotten food, servings are often extremely small. Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges quotes a prison inmate who said, “You could eat six portions like the ones we served and still be hungry. If we put more than the required portion on the tray the Aramark people would make us take it off. It wasn’t civilized. I lost 30 pounds. I would wake up at night and put toothpaste in my mouth to get rid of the hunger urge.” Read the rest of Truthdig’s expose for more.

5) Many prisoners are forced to work real jobs for private corporations, forcing down wages in the rest of the economy.

While cheap sweatshop labor is becoming increasingly common across the country, no one takes better advantage of the system than prisons.

Alternet reports that almost 1 million prisoners are doing simple unskilled labor including “making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing, while getting paid somewhere between 93 cents and $4.73 per day.” They continue:

“Rarely can you find workers so pliable, easy to control, stripped of political rights, and subject to martial discipline at the first sign of recalcitrance — unless, that is, you traveled back to the nineteenth century when convict labor was commonplace nationwide….  It was one vital way the United States became a modern industrial capitalist economy — at a moment, eerily like our own, when the mechanisms of capital accumulation were in crisis.”

Compare the cost of less than $5 a day with the cost of a minimum wage worker at $58 a day and you begin to see the perverse influence on the entire labor market.

CNN Money reports that prison inmates are now directly competing for jobs in the rest of the economy, and employers are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up. Lost jobs are the result. They cite one company, American Apparel Inc., which makes military uniforms. They write:

“‘We pay employees $9 on average,’ [a company executive] said. ‘They get full medical insurance, 401(k) plans and paid vacation. Yet we’re competing against a federal program that doesn’t pay any of that.’

[The private prison] is not required to pay its workers minimum wage and instead pays inmates 23 cents to $1.15 an hour. It doesn’t have health insurance costs. It also doesn’t shell out federal, state or local taxes.”

The new influx of cheap, domestic labor will inevitably drive down wages for both skilled and unskilled jobs.

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Dr. Engali's picture

I saw the number five and I immediately thought it was an awful short list for Snyder. It looks like we'll get treated to two lists today

Soul Glow's picture

Great, now Karrigan is making lists.  Please someone tell these guys nobody likes lists.

naughtius maximus's picture

5 reasons people are fed up with lists

James_Cole's picture

there are more black men in prison today than there were slaves in 1850, according to Michelle Alexander, an Ohio State law professor, who cited the last census immediately before the Civil War. This comparison not account for changes in population, but the statistic is accurate in terms of sheer numbers .

Facepalm.

BandGap's picture

I taught at a historical black college for a year and a half. At the time, there were 6X as many black men in prison as there were in college in the state (Ga.). Tell me what has changed.

acetinker's picture

Morehouse?  Morris Brown?  I am always amazed that nearly all the students there are female.  Fuckin' shame.

jbvtme's picture

"the vilest deeds like poison weeds bloom well in prison air. it's only what is good in man that wastes and withers there".  oscar wilde

0b1knob's picture

#6 -Jon Corzine has never seen the inside of a prison.

nmewn's picture

And likely never will, however, there are different lists ;-)

Tom_333's picture

Free Jon!

 

Join the Free Jon campaign. Your campaign contribution is appreciated.

ugmug's picture

I lived in a neighborhood that quickly became a ghetto. These blacks and Latinos ALL live and behave exactly like they do while they were in prison. This post is a joke!!!!!

When these bastards become high and drunk (every hour) they rape anything that moves...and they force everyone living near them to work for nothing cleaning up their trashy life as they trash the neighborhood and their apartment.

Whoever thinks this fucking stupid article will gain sympathy with people who KNOW these fucking prisoners better rethink this stupid shit. Prisoners are treated TOO GOOD while in prison because when these fucking bastards get out of prison they treat everyone else far WORSE!!!!!!!!!!!

People in the ghetto view prison as a career goal! Go stand next to any group of blacks or Latinos at a subway station or bus stop and you'll be shocked how these people view prison and the justice system as a recreational sport!

 

New World Chaos's picture

So I guess American prisons contain no innocents, hippies, debtors, black people locked up for minor stupid shit, whistleblowers, political prisoners, and people who assaulted a cop's ego.  Guess it fits.  We already know there are no bankers or war crimminals in prison.  So everyone must be a gangbanger.

Read the book "Three felonies per day".  That's how many crimes you commit per day without even knowing it.  The only reason you're not in jail is because you have not personally attracted Sauron's ire... yet.

ugmug's picture

You're the typical moron who has never lived around these innocent prisoners. Have you ever watched a whole neighborhood become unlivable simply because people with no capacity to live a civilized life FORCE their way in using dumb ass people like you as a battering ram...........

Againstthelie's picture

Ugmug,

I agree, that many people have no clue about the scum that exists.

But that doesn't mean the US prison system is the only way to treat them.

Look at the German concentration camp system. No drugs, no violence. Political inmates were living side by side with criminal inmates. They used inmates, called Capos, that were responsible for security and that nobody was harmed. And these Capos were held responsible. Hierarchy and authority. Just like everywhere in life.

Who is responsible for a correct behaviour of inmates in the plutocratic prisons? There are the ones that are outside and all inside are an equal mass - without strict rules and an enforced hierarchy, it's obvious that the biggest scum will rule. Is that sane? That's EVIL.

Also the possibility of physical labour outside for healthy inmates, contrary to be indoor and imprisoned, also reduces aggressions.

And what is the sense behind the US prison system? Do people learn respect? Discipline? Order? No! Those that are not severe criminals that go in, come out as professional criminals.

In a concentration or labor camp system the Germans had, every inmate is put under a kind of military education.

 

I find it funny, that the result of the demonization of the Nazi system, the good things are kept out of any rationale discussion and extremely bad things are cemented as only alternative.

 

And that's not the only aspect of the US prison system that sucks. Just look how sadistically slowly prisoners are executed! It makes me angry. I wish any of these bastards that make these sadistic ways to kill legal, would receive this kind of "humanity"! Instead of a quick shot in the head, or a guillotine, they are expanding the torture sometimes over hours! From this aspect alone you can see, that this system is truly perverted and sadistic.

ugmug's picture

To me any academic philosophical argument is nothing more than watching people tack on gobs of muscles in a gym without having any other purpose than  to enhance the person's vanity. These vanity intellectual causes such as prison reform are like watching someone building up muscles in a gym while receiving  government entitlements, the muscles are for vanity only and will never serve humanity in any appreciable manner. Humanity can, and will, spiral out of control once the fear of retribution is removed.

HardAssets's picture

To get at any kind of truth, an argument has to be based on evidence & logic. Conclusions need to go beyond the emotional. "I see scum wrecking my neighborhood. So, there should be even more people locked up in prisons, and conditions in them should be even worse."

I haven't looked deeply enough into this topic to form a truly informed opinion. But something doesnt seem right when there are more people in prisons in so-called 'free' America than in Communist China with triple our population. Imprisoning so many people hasnt made American streets a safe paradise, either. Something just doesnt seem right.

PS - and I'm not some liberal thumb sucker, either. As a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, if any scum tried to hurt me or my family I would use the amount of force required to stop them.

ugmug's picture

Truth is allowing stupidity to be used to as a solution. Reality is looking at life as it is, not as it should be. Make up your mind which one you want, fact or fantasy.

Why wouldn't all these other nations with exlemplary recitivism of their prison populations take all of our prisioners off our hands and make them valuable citizens of their own country. I'm sure we'd throw in a weeks worth of drugs, booze, and condoms. What could possibly go wrong?

markpower49's picture

Poor people should be culled. They are poor due to their own pathologies.

Dark Space's picture

Why the facepalm?

The statistic doesn't seem accurate by sheer numbers either. In 2011 there were 2.3mm total people (all skin tones) incarcerated in either federal, state, or municipal facilities. In 1850 there were a total of 3.2mm slaves, so the data seems to be misprepresented.

SeanJKerrigan's picture

You need to consider that there is also house arrest, ankle bracelets, forced work outside of prison and other forms of control which are expanding rapidly.

EDIT: If you include ALL forms of correctional supervision (including parole), it's well over 6 million.

HardAssets's picture

Do you have a link to your stats ?  I agree that we must always be accurate in figures cited, or it hurts our argument.

Tom_333's picture

Yeah - though the area he is addressing is interesting and deserves attention. After all - who believes that slavery ever went away...

It has just transmuted into criminal slavery , chattel slavery...you name it. I am even beginning to think that DHS and TSA are there to administer slave training more than anything else. Don´t get uppity , now.

ugmug's picture

The simple mind will forever confuse freewill with free reign. Only wild animals have both freewill and free reign which is why they are animals. Intelligence recognizes that to live a civilized life one must differentiate between freewill and free reign.

Even in the story of Adam and Eve it highlighted the fact that mankind was given a commandment by God while the animals weren't. This highlighted the fact that as far back as mankind's recorded intelligence he realized the difference between freewill and free reign.

Tom_333's picture

You need to be strip searched and abused. You obey and comply with instructions you say...yes that´s why you need to be strip searched , probed and abused. What a cunning plot to try to pass yourself off as civilized and compliant. Tell-tale signs that you have something to hide. And by the way...the news are that there is a fee for this , now.

ugmug's picture

You have never had an asshole just released from prison, given an apartment by a fucking social agency in a decent neighborhood, and then have the bastard get high and terrorize the neighborhood with a rifle. You moron bleeding hearts make me sick.

Pladizow's picture

#1 There arnt enough bankers in them!

vie's picture

If only bankers were black, they'd be in jail in no time!

wee-weed up's picture

 

 

Most blacks are not in the "tribe"...

But Obozo and Holder definitely are!

And they deserve to be in prison more than anybody!

What a fucked-up USA we live in now!

TBT or not TBT's picture

One of the Fannie/Freddie pair of GSE'S had a highly paid black honcho. Don't recall that evil fuckers name and kinda don't want to.

francis_the_wonder_hamster's picture

Franklin Raines......and yes, he's a crook.

AnAnonymous's picture

'Americans' usually turn critical/furious when they see a negro behaving the 'american' way.
Nevertheless, they turn critical or furious not because of the 'american' way but because a negro behave that way.

Behaving the 'american' way is reserved to the a priviledged part in humanity. And 'americans' do not consider negroes should be part of it.

In the end, it will turn that negro 'americans' who happen to be bankers will be sent to jail while the other 'americans' who happen to be bankers will keep dancing around.

Poor Grogman's picture

As unemployment grew in England, and an industrialising economy reduced the need for labor. People turned to petty crime to survive.
You could face "transportation to the colonies for life" for stealing a loaf of bread. That is if you survived long enough in a stinking "prison hulk" made from a decommissioned warship.

By the way, what WILL the US do with all those old warships?

Long prison hulks...

kchrisc's picture

Am I the only one that says that the banksters go directly to the guillotine--"...do not pass go."

glefnet's picture

Haha, in good company here. Glad to see all the up votes. Adding to the list of insane facts about us prison/surveliance? as of 2012, 3.75 percent of the population or 1 in every 27 adult americans was under direct government supervision (i.e. terrorist list, parole, emprisoned, etc), and when the main cores list is added to the mix it becomes about 1 in 15 americans.

Again too bad there aren't more bankers indeed.

Al Huxley's picture

Same here - I was already mentally prepping a Snyder-appropriate comment when I clicked the link.

rubiconsolutions's picture

Re: number 5 - It's a myth that slavery was eliminated in this country. Read the 13th amendment. It say in part -

Section 1. 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.

In other words, if you are convicted of a non violent crime, say, having a blunt in your possession then you become a slave in the prison-industrial complex. For "Negroes" (as Donald Sterling would say), the venue has changed from the cotton fields to the manufacturing facilities in prisons. And the fact is that people are profiting big time from this slavery. America has a larger percentage of people in slavery than any other country in the world.

besnook's picture

i don't care what anyone else thinks. "negro" is a much more elegant, honorable word than "black".

CH1's picture

i don't care what anyone else thinks. "negro" is a much more elegant, honorable word than "black".

Agreed, Besnook. "Negro" had a bit of dignity to it.

Chuck Walla's picture

What's wrong with "colored"?

 

 

Ein Volk! Ein Barack! Ein Reich!

Flagit's picture

everything.

from the worlds most transparent government.....Executive Order declaring all crayons are to be Transparent.

the Communists quest to destroy the American industrial infrastructure begins with the Color Wheel.

HardAssets's picture

I'll glady call people by whatever name they prefer

You like 'Sam' rather than 'Samuel', 'Robert' rather than 'Bob' ?

(And my Dad hated that they called him 'Sonny' as a kid.)

No problem, that's your preference.

nmewn's picture

On this ass wipe Donald Sterling...Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (a negro, a black man, whatever) pretty much knocked it out of the park as far as I'm concerned (not being much of a basketball fan, excuse the cross metaphor there...lol)...

"So, if we’re all going to be outraged, let’s be outraged that we weren’t more outraged when his racism was first evident. Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played. Let’s be outraged that whoever did the betraying will probably get a book deal, a sitcom, trade recipes with Hoda and Kathie Lee, and soon appear on Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars.

The big question is “What should be done next?” I hope Sterling loses his franchise. I hope whoever made this illegal tape is sent to prison. I hope the Clippers continue to be unconditionally supported by their fans. I hope the Clippers realize that the ramblings of an 80-year-old man jealous of his young girlfriend don’t define who they are as individual players or as a team. They aren’t playing for Sterling—they’re playing for themselves, for the fans, for showing the world that neither basketball, nor our American ideals, are defined by a few pathetic men or women."

The entire article is worth reading, the man is swinging his bat (again, oh never mind, ain't goin there) and bustin everybody's chops...

http://time.com/79590/donald-sterling-kareem-abdul-jabbar-racism/

An Honorary ZH Member if I ever saw one ;-)

Flagit's picture

i often wonder where we would be if these basketball, football, and hockey fans would stop and turn that attention to the state of the union and ask their elected representatives what they "actually did" yesterday rather that watch a bunch of overfed gladiators dance around.

nmewn's picture

Well, they do have the attention of the "unwashed masses" so if any of them can string together a few paragraphs as Kareem did, they could certainly get OUR point across.

ImGumbydmmt's picture

logged in just to up vote that. that is exactly what we need. The unwashed massed must awaken.

Nothing will change until it looks like Greece or the Ukraine on the DC congressional lawn.

However as I write that I am thinking the problem with that, or any uprising, is the ones who will take the most action are time and again, the ones who hope to gain the most reward.

Now I am off topic, but

Either they are ambitious freelance sociopaths and/or thay have the backing of the elite as the replacment guards for the nut house,

Time and again we see the movements to replace regimes co-opted by the same sort of quislings which the uprisings are trying to do away with,

Congress critters, judges, etc, just do what they do, just a few are in the hands of the elite directly, the rest are just pawns of a range of corporate lobbies.

A few are truly evil and/or dialed-in to the elite's wishes. examplas include H i t l e r y and O b o z o  ,This is evident by action and sound bites, the h i t l e r y presentation on the C o u n c i l on F o r e i g n R e l a t i o n s was an eyopener to me.

C F R and U N are among the conduits to achieve the elite's ends on the earth. To see this woman who was so bold and arrogant in the green dress turn a dour expression to R Paul during the B e n g h a z i hearings and exclaim "what does it matter"   But also be so polite and submissive to the authority of the C F R tells us everything about the chain of command.

Until you cut off the heads, above C F R, those with epic generational dynasties in the shadows we will get the same result no matter how much blood runs in the street.

H i t l a r y, O b o z o, B a n k f i e n, D i m o n, H o l d e r,  ALL clowns in the circus I tall you, if they are bood off stage by the masses, T P T B will sweep them away and replace them with the next act of puppets.

Now if you could tell a man with a rope where to find an R K fella or an R child or a B Berg, then you can get something done.

otheriwse we are all just pissing in the wind.

blowback will get us all a bullet or a  f e m a train ride eventually.

and that is why i rarely post.

 

nmewn's picture

When the time comes (sometime shortly after showing up on the lawn and cleaning house) the "collective we" are going to have to have a long discussion about "law" and what its purpose is.

From Vaclav Havel's The Power of the Powerless:

If an outside observer who knew nothing at all about life in Czechoslovakia were to study only its laws, he would be utterly incapable of understanding what we were complaining about. The hidden political manipulation of the courts and of public prosecutors, the limitations placed on lawyers' ability to defend their clients, the closed nature, de facto, of trials, the arbitrary actions of the security forces, their position of authority over the judiciary, the absurdly broad application of several deliberately vague sections of that code, and of course the state's utter disregard for the positive sections of that code (the rights of citizens): all of this would remain hidden from our outside observer. The only thing he would take away would be the impression that our legal code is not much worse than the legal code of other civilized countries, and not much different either, except perhaps for certain curiosities, such as the entrenchment in the constitution of a single political party's eternal rule and the state's love for a neighboring superpower.

But that is not all: if our observer had the opportunity to study the formal side of the policing and judicial procedures and practices, how they look "on paper," he would discover that for the most part the common rules of criminal procedure are observed: charges are laid within the prescribed period following arrest, and it is the same with detention orders. Indictments are properly delivered, the accused has a lawyer, and so on. In other words, everyone has an excuse: they have all observed the law. In reality, however, they have cruelly and pointlessly ruined a young person's life, perhaps for no other reason than because he made samizdat copies of a novel written by a banned writer, or because the police deliberately falsified their testimony (as everyone knows, from the judge on down to the defendant). Yet all of this somehow remains in the background. The falsified testimony is not necessarily obvious from the trial documents and the section of the Criminal Code dealing with incitement does not formally exclude the application of that charge to the copying of a banned novel. In other words, the legal code-at least in several areas-is no more than a facade, an aspect of the world of appearances. Then why is it there at all? For exactly the same reason as ideology is there: it provides a bridge of excuses between the system and individuals, making it easier for them to enter the power structure and serve the arbitrary demands of power. The excuse lets individuals fool themselves into thinking they are merely upholding the law and protecting society from criminals.

IdiocracyIsAlreadyHere's picture

Awesome quote, thanks.  If you left out who wrote it, it could be describing the system in this country as well.  The "law & order" types (mostly high authoritarian followers) always wax upon the evils of "commies" without irony, that if they really looked at themselves in the mirror that they are pretty much the same.

nmewn's picture

Very astute, it was meant as a warning to all...including "law & order commie" types ;-)