Prisons, Wars, and the Lust for Profit


Prisons, Wars, and the Lust for Profit


by Larry Pinkney


“Jails and prisons are designed to break human beings, to convert the population into specimens in a zoo-obedient to our keepers, but dangerous to each other.”

–Angela Davis


“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

–Howard Zinn


In the 21st century the United States of America has rushed head long in to turning the incarceration of human beings into a thriving profit-driven and increasingly privatized business. This nation, in fact, has the the largest documented rate of imprisonment in the world.

Since 1980, the prison population in the U.S. has more than quadrupled. This did not happen by mere osmosis. The same avaricious components that bring us perpetual war and concomitant corporate war-profiteering also fuel the outrageous and increasing amount of prisons and prisoners in the United States.

The people sentenced to prison in this nation are overwhelmingly economically poor irrespective of their color or gender, though the incarceration rate of Black and Brown persons is irrefutably disproportionately high even considering the enormous and egregious rate of incarceration over-all. The reality is, that just as in the case of perpetual wars abroad, there is financial profit to be made by a tiny elite, by incarcerating people.

Noted journalist, activist, and Black Panther Party veteran Kiilu Nyasha, in her detailed and poignantly informative piece entitled, AMERICAN TORTURE CHAMBERS: A Report On Today’s Prisons & Jails, puts it this way:

“Incarceration is not just about slave labor and the prison industrial complex (to be addressed in another part of this series). A majority of prisoners are just being warehoused in torturous conditions for profit — and for social and population control along economic and ethnic or “racial” lines (There’s one human race.). But classism and White supremacy are alive and well. Removing the reproductive years of young Black and Brown captives precludes reproduction, divides families, and destroys poor communities.”

The above-mentioned report by Kiilu Nyasha, though written in late 2006, is even more relevant today in 2011, as the U.S. prison population has continued to skyrocket and prison conditions have become ever more appalling. (Reference

It should be clearly understood that incarceration has nothing whatever to do with so-called rehabilitation. Indeed, to the contrary, imprisonment debases human beings on every conceivable level. Its horrors are often indescribable. Moreover, law should never be confused with justice, as more often than not, laws and justice have little or nothing in common with one another, particularly as applied to ordinary everyday people.

Notwithstanding the ongoing wrongful incarceration of myriads of political prisoners in the United States who were (and continue to be) hideously framed or otherwise set-up to be “neutralized” and imprisoned; the millions of other prisoners in this nation are, for the most part, the cannon fodder of a corrupt, hypocritical, and unjust judicial system that serves the interests of profit and property, not those of everyday ordinary people. The prison-gulag system of the United States needs to be utterly abolished and replaced with a model of real justice, humanity, and reclamation. Of course, this process can only occur when the corporate/military elite (the actual systemic criminals) have been reined in and dethroned by the everyday people of this nation.

As U.S. ‘educational’ institutions and the corporate-stream media continue to disinform, propagate misguided patriotism, and glorify and rationalize perpetual wars abroad; it is absolutely no wonder that this nation has the most violent society on this planet of Mother Earth. The words of Fyodor Dostoyevsky ring ever truer: “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” It is the blood-sucking, avaricious profit motive that fuels the ruthless emaciation of everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people whether in the brutal, debased, U.S. prison gulag-system or as the bloody cannon fodder of corporate/government-sponsored perpetual U.S. wars abroad.

What the corporate politicians of the U.S. government, and its propaganda arm–the corporate-stream media, refer to as ‘globilization,’ is in actuality nothing more than the global economic blood-sucking by the few wealthy elite of the vast majority of the people of this nation and planet.

The connections between incarceration, judicial ineptness and corruption, militarism/war, and corporate hegemony are inextricably linked, while greed and the profit motive remain at the very heart of the hypocrisy and cruelty within U.S. society. Indeed, prisons, wars, and the lust for profit need to be addressed at their very core–and reversed. It does not have to be this way, but only a conscious and a collectively united everyday persons can change this reality in what is a long and protracted people’s struggle.

It is an open-secret that the real and deadliest criminals of this nation are the de facto, corporately-owned, politicians of the Democrat and Republican parties in service to the corporate/military elite. It is time for we the people to organize–each one teaching one, until this corporate plutocracy which is not a people’s democracy is fundamentally and systemically changed.

Onward, then, my sisters and brothers! Onward!


Intrepid Report Associate Editor Larry Pinkney is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil / political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities, Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS News Hour, formerly known as The MacNeil / Lehrer News Hour. Pinkney is a former university instructor of political science and international relations, and his writings have been published in various places, including The Boston Globe, the San Francisco BayView newspaper, the Black Commentator, Global Research (Canada), LINKE ZEITUNG (Germany), and Mayihlome News (Azania/South Africa). For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book.)







  1. Thank you Larry Pinkney for writing this article and thank you Gordon Duff and Veterans Today for addressing the issue of the Prison-Industrial Complex.

    If we follow the money, the same handful of financial interests through their control of the people’s government get their slave labor, their cannon fodder, their obscene profits from the illegal drug trade, and their capture of other people’s natural resources by invading and raping their countries.

    If we follow the money, we can actually identify who it is that’s behind all of this and flush them out into view of the general public … and once enough of the general public becomes in the know so as to achieve critical mass, then we can be rid of these oppressive criminal beasts.

  2. I wrote this and then realized I had used a now very-vague term, “libertarian”, to point out a phase of undoing government apparatuses that exist. I shouldn’t have applied this label. Your post was informative, however. Thanks for that.

  3. Two ostensible “libertarians,” David H. and Charles de Ganahl Koch, have done a great deal to promote the spread of the for-profit prison system in the U.S. and consequently the rest of the world.

    Their front group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, has promoted “truth in sentencing,” “three strikes” and other draconian legislation. The Corrections Corporation of America has chaired the Criminal Justice/Public Safety Committee, heavily influencing that legislation. Many of the hundred or more non-profits, consisting of a vast network of Koch propaganda factories, have produced an unending stream of bullshit claiming to be “research,” in support of that gulag. GEO Group, which with CCA splits about 90% of all the for-profit beds in the U.S. and many overseas as well, also was a member of the committee writing the legislation. CCA sponsored a ballot initiative in California that would have substantially extended the reach of the criminal justice system, labeling minority offenders as “gang members,” wholly in the absence of any proof, in order to give them longer terms or to pressure innocent defendants into pleading guilty. GEO pushed to pass “Jessica’s Law,” which immensely expanded the scope of sex offenses to be punished by lengthy terms in Kansas, in order to get the state law that prohibited their building new for-profit prisons repealed.

    Libertarians have taken Ron Paul to their bosom, but he has endorsed the John Birch Society, the “precious bodily fluids” loons who have done so much damage to our country and its democracy. It is libertarians who have pushed policies to get people who were raised from infancy in the U.S. to be deported to countries where they may not even speak the language, who have legal spouses and children, because of some innocuous offense, from marijuana possession to overstaying a visa.

    The Kochs have supported deregulation and repeal of those laws that have polluted our environments and reduced the killing of people who were so unfortunate as to be living next to their pipelines, refineries, toxic waste sites, etc.

    True libertarians, such as John Stuart Mill, understood that their right to strike out ends before they hit us in the face. The Kochs and their ilk are the polar opposite of such theorists.

  4. Just to be clear, you are supporting the authors point. When you make a victimless action a crime (drugs) you have created a black market that will create its own criminals. It is a traged to be sure. For evidence just look at when the prison system population started to explode. The saddest part of all is the blatant subsidizing of the cartels by our government. Op. Fast and Furious? That is just the most recent we know of and we can only assume there are MANY more nefarious dealings in that realm going on. Can you really tell yourself it is the exception and not the rule?

    I would love for your neighborhood to be more peaceful but realize where the money trail leads when you seek to place blame for a societal issue. Consider that your neigborhood is good business for someone.

  5. It’s not good enough, Congress

    By Adam Sturman (Additional editing by Leandra Bernstein)

    It seems as if some in Congress got the message. Several days ago I posted a warning on the transfer of tens of trillions of dollars worth of derivatives contracts from Merill Lynch on to Bank of America. This is exactly the kind of illegal action that would be forbidden with the reenactment of Glass-Steagall (H.R. 1489).

  6. Maybe it’s because they commit crimes like the boy shot four times last week in my neighbor hood. Could be the woman shot three days before him? Sorry, there may be something better but I don’t want them in my neighborhood. We already have a shooting every week because of the drug dealers.

  7. New slogan Gordon ! , OCCUPY,OR DIE……..Which could happen if the 1% decides to get rid of the 99% ,so we have to OCCUPY OR DIE..

  8. It’s a forking crying shame that these corksuckers have managed to cap just about everyone in there funny little box (just about everyone)

  9. Yes, many have been incarcerated falsely. But most are where they are because they have murdered, raped, stolen or committed some other crime against someone else. Their chose to commit these crimes was their own, the corporate elite didn’t make them do it. Most were put there by a jury! There is much that needs changing in this country but we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We are still a country where more people are trying to get in than out. Why, because it’s the better alternative. Most who are the victims, or friends and family of those victims, of the crimes committed by those incarcerated would not agree with your article no matter what their political ideology might be. As I stated, much needs changing in our country but there is no utopia out there, human nature doesn’t allow it.

  10. In reaction to Federal Sentencing Guidelines that target socioeconomic groups, American grassroots efforts sought to appease behavior that lead to incarceration. This has failed thus far and the cycle continues, but how to unlink it? I agree with you that all of these issues fit together in the grand scheme of feeding the top of the pyramid with the bottom. Thus, I think, in short, America needs two cycles of political governance: (1) Libertarian; (2) Realist. The first would demolish the molded/unlivable structure on a valuable lot. The second, would build in its place, an un-corruptable, neo-America, with machinations to ensure that the truth is never hidden under the rug again.

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