Be Careful With Your Face at Airports

Updated 12:04 PM ET, Thu March 19, 2015

(CNN) You’re late for your flight, sweaty from having dragged your luggage to the check-in counter, and stressed about making it through security before boarding begins. For some of us, this is the rule, not the exception. For most of us, it’s a pretty unremarkable scenario.

Not so fast, says the Transportation Security Administration. Typical airport behavior like this could make you a suspicious traveler who should be subjected to questioning and additional screening — and possibly referred to the police for investigation, detention or arrest.

That should seem far-fetched, but it isn’t. The TSA continues to use pseudo-scientific “behavior detection” techniques that have given rise to persistent allegations of racial and ethnic profiling at our nation’s airports.

Through a program called Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT, the TSA employs thousands of “behavior detection officers” who scrutinize travelers to look for signs of “mal-intent” in airport screening areas. The officers typically spend less than 30 seconds scanning an average passenger for over 90 behaviors the TSA associates with stress, fear or deception. When the officers perceive clusters of such behaviors in any given individual, they refer that person for secondary inspection and questioning.

The SPOT program relies on theories about “micro-expressions,” involuntary facial expressions that supposedly appear for milliseconds despite one’s efforts to conceal them. Behavior detection officers look for such micro-expressions while scanning passengers’ faces or engaging in casual conversation with them.

It’s as nutty as it sounds.

 Setting aside that the officers’ perception of these behaviors is inherently subjective, there’s just no evidence that deception or “mal-intent” can reliably be detected through observation, especially in an unstructured setting like an airport screening area.

The fact that many people find such settings inherently stressful only compounds the problem. If TSA’s behavior detection officers look for stress in a stressful environment, they’re going to find it, along with plenty of false positives.

Just about everyone outside the TSA who has reviewed the SPOT program has decided that it’s unscientific and a waste of money. An exhaustive review by the Government Accountability Office found the SPOT program lacked a scientific basis, that the behavioral indicators it relied on were subjective, and that the TSA had no effective means to test its effectiveness. In no uncertain terms, the GAO recommended that Congress curtail funding for the program.

An independent scientific advisory group that reviewed the SPOT program also concluded that “no scientific evidence exists to support the detection or inference of future behavior, including intent.”

And during a congressional hearing on the program, Republican Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina observed, “To my knowledge, there has not been a single instance where a behavior detection officer has referred someone to a law enforcement officer and that individual turned out to be a terrorist.”

Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, stated, “I am concerned that TSA will continue to spin its wheels with this program instead of developing a more effective and efficient approach.”

Despite this withering criticism, SPOT remains in place and has cost taxpayers well over $1 billion (that’s with a b) since its inception in 2007. Repeat: over a billion dollars on a misguided program that doesn’t work.

Equally troubling is that SPOT has given rise to persistent allegations of racial and ethnic profiling — an unfortunately inevitable result when law enforcement or border agents single people out based on hasty, gut-level judgments about them.

Allegations of profiling by behavior detection officers have come not only from travelers, but also from numerous other officers. Over 30 behavior detection officers at Boston Logan International Airport said that profiling was rampant there. One of the officers told reporters, “They just pull aside anyone who they don’t like the way they look — if they are black and have expensive clothes or jewelry, or if they are Hispanic.”

Another officer submitted an anonymous complaint saying, “The behavior detection program is no longer a behavior-based program, but it is a racial profiling program.”

The TSA has not revealed what, if any, steps it has taken to ensure that unlawful profiling does not occur in airport screening. Nor has TSA explained why — despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary — SPOT contributes meaningfully to aviation security.

That’s why the ACLU submitted an FOIA request to TSA seeking information on its use of behavior detection. We’ve received no response, so we’re taking the TSA to court to get the information the public needs to fully evaluate it.

People expect that when they travel, they will be screened for weapons or explosives that could bring down an airplane. They don’t expect — nor should they — that officers will make probing judgments about their intentions based on little more than their facial expressions, or that they will be stopped, questioned and perhaps even searched because of their race or ethnicity.

It’s time for TSA to explain and justify the SPOT program. Or better yet, listen to those who say it’s a waste of money and scrap it entirely.

view original story here:  http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/19/opinions/handeyside-tsa-spot-program/index.html

Reminder — Animals are Included in Agenda 21’s Depopulation Plan

The Agenda 21 description below will remind you that the world depopulation plan applies to animals as well as humans. The CNN article regarding the birds is below the Agenda 21 description.

UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development is the action plan implemented worldwide to inventory and control all land, all water, all minerals, all plants, all animals, all construction, all means of production, all energy, all education, all information, and all human beings in the world.  INVENTORY AND CONTROL.—-Rosa Koire

http://www.democratsagainstunagenda21.com/

2,000 Snow Geese Drop dead from the sky in Idaho

(CNN)Idaho wildlife officials have retrieved 2,000 dead snow geese that fell from the sky this week.

The birds, whose carcasses were collected over the weekend, appear to have died of avian cholera, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said Tuesday.

“The migratory birds were on the return leg of their migration from the southwestern United States and Mexico to their breeding grounds on the northern coast of Alaska,” said Steve Schmidt, a regional supervisor.

They died near Dubois, Terreton and Roberts — all in the eastern part of the state.

It’s unclear where the geese picked the bacteria from, but authorities are scrambling to ensure that other birds don’t feed on the carcasses and spread the disease.

“The important thing is to quickly collect as many of the carcasses as possible, to prevent other birds from feeding on the infected birds,” Schmidt said.

“Biologists observed about 20 eagles in the vicinity of some of the carcasses. Because of a delayed incubation period it is uncertain where these eagles might be located, if and when the avian cholera affects them.”

Though the official lab results are not out, officials said the cause of death points to avian cholera.

Humans are not considered at high risk of getting the disease, according to U.S. health officials.

Introducing the First Mind-Controlled Drone

By Dylan Love on February 25, 2015

A company called Tekever has unveiled a drone system that lets people pilot the mini aircrafts with nothing more than a thought. It’s called Brainflight, and it lives up to its name.

Their technology makes use of standard EEG equipment, common in medical facilities around the world. EEGs turn brain activity into electrical signals that can be read and interpreted by a computer, and in this case, software sends these interpretations to an airborne drone to tell it what to do.

BBC

There are a lot of implications here. Disabled people will be able to use drones with nothing more than a thought, of course, but the big picture here is that the interface between gadget and human is disappearing. As it gets more advanced, Tekever’s system will rapidly enable humans to fly a drone as easily as they might walk or run.

BBC

And what about further in the future? Imagine commercial air pilots being on the ground, thinking their passengers towards their destinations. The team says that’s where this technology is heading, though of course there are still many challenges ahead (regulatory and technical) before we get to that point.

It reportedly takes several months of training before would-be thought-pilots are able to effectively control the aircraft. Sounds like a good time investment to us.

See original post here: Drones

The Disappeared: Chicago Police Detain Americans at Abuse-Laden ‘Black Site’

Another Black Operation that sounds no different than  Guantánamo Bay.

Spencer Ackerman in Chicago @attackerman

Tuesday 24 February 2015 16.43 EST Last modified on Wednesday 25 February 2015 08.13 EST

 

  • Exclusive: Secret interrogation facility reveals aspects of war on terror in US
  • ‘They disappeared us’: protester details 17-hour shackling without basic rights
  • Accounts describe police brutality, missing 15-year-old and one man’s death

While US military and intelligence interrogation impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles and even a cage – focuses on American citizens, most often poor, black and brown. ‘When you go in,’ Brian Jacob Church told the Guardian, ‘nobody knows what happened to you.’

The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage – trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.

Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.

“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.

Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution.

“This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,” Taylor said, “of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”

Much remains hidden about Homan Square. The Chicago police department did not respond to the Guardian’s questions about the facility. But after the Guardian published this story, the department provided a statement insisting, without specifics, that there is nothing untoward taking place at what it called the “sensitive” location, home to undercover units.

“CPD [Chicago police department] abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility. If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them. It also houses CPD’s Evidence Recovered Property Section, where the public is able to claim inventoried property,” the statement said, something numerous attorneys and one Homan Square arrestee have denied.

“There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square,” it continued.

The Chicago police statement did not address how long into an arrest or detention those records are generated or their availability to the public. A department spokesperson did not respond to a detailed request for clarification.

When a Guardian reporter arrived at the warehouse on Friday, a man at the gatehouse outside refused any entrance and would not answer questions. “This is a secure facility. You’re not even supposed to be standing here,” said the man, who refused to give his name.

A former Chicago police superintendent and a more recently retired detective, both of whom have been inside Homan Square in the last few years in a post-police capacity, said the police department did not operate out of the warehouse until the late 1990s.

But in detailing episodes involving their clients over the past several years, lawyers described mad scrambles that led to the closed doors of Homan Square, a place most had never heard of previously. The facility was even unknown to Rob Warden, the founder of Northwestern University Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, until the Guardian informed him of the allegations of clients who vanish into inherently coercive police custody.

“They just disappear,” said Anthony Hill, a criminal defense attorney, “until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street.”

‘Never going to see the light of day’: the search for the Nato Three, the head wound, the worried mom and the dead man

‘They were held incommunicado for much longer than I think should be permitted in this country – anywhere – but particularly given the strong constitutional rights afforded to people who are being charged with crimes,” said Sarah Gelsomino, the lawyer for Brian Jacob Church. Photograph: Phil Batta/Guardian

Jacob Church learned about Homan Square the hard way. On May 16 2012, he and 11 others were taken there after police infiltrated their protest against the Nato summit. Church says officers cuffed him to a bench for an estimated 17 hours, intermittently interrogating him without reading his Miranda rights to remain silent. It would take another three hours – and an unusual lawyer visit through a wire cage – before he was finally charged with terrorism-related offenses at the nearby 11th district station, where he was made to sign papers, fingerprinted and photographed.

In preparation for the Nato protest, Church, who is from Florida, had written a phone number for the National Lawyers Guild on his arm as a precautionary measure. Once taken to Homan Square, Church asked explicitly to call his lawyers, and said he was denied.

“Essentially, I wasn’t allowed to make any contact with anybody,” Church told the Guardian, in contradiction of a police guidance on permitting phone calls and legal counsel to arrestees.

Church’s left wrist was cuffed to a bar behind a bench in windowless cinderblock cell, with his ankles cuffed together. He remained in those restraints for about 17 hours.

“I had essentially figured, ‘All right, well, they disappeared us and so we’re probably never going to see the light of day again,’” Church said.

Brian Jacob Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly, known as the ‘Nato Three’. Photograph: AP/Cook County sheriff’s office

Though the raid attracted major media attention, a team of attorneys could not find Church through 12 hours of “active searching”, Sarah Gelsomino, Church’s lawyer, recalled. No booking record existed. Only after she and others made a “major stink” with contacts in the offices of the corporation counsel and Mayor Rahm Emanuel did they even learn about Homan Square.

They sent another attorney to the facility, where he ultimately gained entry, and talked to Church through a floor-to-ceiling chain-link metal cage. Finally, hours later, police took Church and his two co-defendants to a nearby police station for booking.

After serving two and a half years in prison, Church is currently on parole after he and his co-defendants were found not guilty in 2014 of terrorism-related offenses but guilty of lesser charges of possessing an incendiary device and the misdemeanor of “mob action”.

It’s almost like they throw a black bag over your head and make you disappear for a day or two

Brian Jacob Church

The access that Nato Three attorneys received to Homan Square was an exception to the rule, even if Jacob Church’s experience there was not.

Three attorneys interviewed by the Guardian report being personally turned away from Homan Square between 2009 and 2013 without being allowed access to their clients. Two more lawyers who hadn’t been physically denied described it as a place where police withheld information about their clients’ whereabouts. Church was the only person who had been detained at the facility who agreed to talk with the Guardian: their lawyers say others fear police retaliation.

One man in January 2013 had his name changed in the Chicago central bookings database and then taken to Homan Square without a record of his transfer being kept, according to Eliza Solowiej of Chicago’s First Defense Legal Aid. (The man, the Guardian understands, wishes to be anonymous; his current attorney declined to confirm Solowiej’s account.) She found out where he was after he was taken to the hospital with a head injury.

“He said that the officers caused his head injuries in an interrogation room at Homan Square. I had been looking for him for six to eight hours, and every department member I talked to said they had never heard of him,” Solowiej said. “He sent me a phone pic of his head injuries because I had seen him in a police station right before he was transferred to Homan Square without any.”

Bartmes, another Chicago attorney, said that in September 2013 she got a call from a mother worried that her 15-year-old son had been picked up by police before dawn. A sympathetic sergeant followed up with the mother to say her son was being questioned at Homan Square in connection to a shooting and would be released soon. When hours passed, Bartmes traveled to Homan Square, only to be refused entry for nearly an hour.

An officer told her, “Well, you can’t just stand here taking notes, this is a secure facility, there are undercover officers, and you’re making people very nervous,” Bartmes recalled. Told to leave, she said she would return in an hour if the boy was not released. He was home, and not charged, after “12, maybe 13” hours in custody.

On February 2, 2013, John Hubbard was taken to Homan Square. Hubbard never walked out. The Chicago Tribune reported that the 44-year old was found “unresponsive inside an interview room”, and pronounced dead. After publication, the Cook County medical examiner told the Guardian that the cause of death was determined to be heroin intoxication.

Homan Square is hardly concerned exclusively with terrorism. Several special units operate outside of it, including the anti-gang and anti-drug forces. If police “want money, guns, drugs”, or information on the flow of any of them onto Chicago’s streets, “they bring them there and use it as a place of interrogation off the books,” Hill said.

‘That scares the hell out of me’: a throwback to Chicago police abuse with a post-9/11 feel

‘The real danger in allowing practices like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,’ criminologist Tracy Siska told the Guardian. Photograph: Chandler West/Guardian

A former Chicago detective and current private investigator, Bill Dorsch, said he had not heard of the police abuses described by Church and lawyers for other suspects who had been taken to Homan Square. He has been permitted access to the facility to visit one of its main features, an evidence locker for the police department. (“I just showed my retirement star and passed through,” Dorsch said.)

Transferring detainees through police custody to deny them access to legal counsel, would be “a career-ender,” Dorsch said. “To move just for the purpose of hiding them, I can’t see that happening,” he told the Guardian.

Richard Brzeczek, Chicago’s police superintendent from 1980 to 1983, who also said he had no first-hand knowledge of abuses at Homan Square, said it was “never justified” to deny access to attorneys.

“Homan Square should be on the same list as every other facility where you can call central booking and say: ‘Can you tell me if this person is in custody and where,’” Brzeczek said.

“If you’re going to be doing this, then you have to include Homan Square on the list of facilities that prisoners are taken into and a record made. It can’t be an exempt facility.”

Indeed, Chicago police guidelines appear to ban the sorts of practices Church and the lawyers said occur at Homan Square.

A directive titled “Processing Persons Under Department Control” instructs that “investigation or interrogation of an arrestee will not delay the booking process,” and arrestees must be allowed “a reasonable number of telephone calls” to attorneys swiftly “after their arrival at the first place of custody.” Another directive, “Arrestee and In-Custody Communications,” says police supervisors must “allow visitation by attorneys.”

Attorney Scott Finger said that the Chicago police tightened the latter directive in 2012 after quiet complaints from lawyers about their lack of access to Homan Square. Without those changes, Church’s attorneys might not have gained entry at all. But that tightening – about a week before Church’s arrest – did not prevent Church’s prolonged detention without a lawyer, nor the later cases where lawyers were unable to enter.

The combination of holding clients for long periods, while concealing their whereabouts and denying access to a lawyer, struck legal experts as a throwback to the worst excesses of Chicago police abuse, with a post-9/11 feel to it.

On a smaller scale, Homan Square is “analogous to the CIA’s black sites,” said Andrea Lyon, a former Chicago public defender and current dean of Valparaiso University Law School. When she practiced law in Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s, she said, “police used the term ‘shadow site’” to refer to the quasi-disappearances now in place at Homan Square.

I’ve never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and hold somebody before booking for hours and hours

James Trainum, former detective, Washington DC

“Back when I first started working on torture cases and started representing criminal defendants in the early 1970s, my clients often told me they’d been taken from one police station to another before ending up at Area 2 where they were tortured,” said Taylor, the civil-rights lawyer most associated with pursuing the notoriously abusive Area 2 police commander Jon Burge. “And in that way the police prevent their family and lawyers from seeing them until they could coerce, through torture or other means, confessions from them.”

Police often have off-site facilities to have private conversations with their informants. But a retired Washington DC homicide detective, James Trainum, could not think of another circumstance nationwide where police held people incommunicado for extended periods.

“I’ve never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours. That scares the hell out of me that that even exists or might exist,” said Trainum, who now studies national policing issues, to include interrogations, for the Innocence Project and the Constitution Project.

Regardless of departmental regulations, police frequently deny or elide access to lawyers even at regular police precincts, said Solowiej of First Defense Legal Aid. But she said the outright denial was exacerbated at Chicago’s secretive interrogation and holding facility: “It’s very, very rare for anyone to experience their constitutional rights in Chicago police custody, and even more so at Homan Square,” Solowiej said.

Church said that one of his more striking memories of Homan Square was the “big, big vehicles” police had inside the complex that “look like very large MRAPs that they use in the Middle East.”

Cook County, home of Chicago, has received some 1,700 pieces of military equipment from a much-criticized Pentagon program transferring military gear to local police. It includes a Humvee, according to a local ABC News report.

Tracy Siska, a criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project, said that Homan Square, as well as the unrelated case of ex-Guantánamo interrogator and retired Chicago detective Richard Zuley, showed the lines blurring between domestic law enforcement and overseas military operations.

“The real danger in allowing practices like Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,” Siska said.

“They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”

This article can be viewed here:
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/24/chicago-police-detain-americans-black-site

 

 

Police Radars That Can See Through Walls

ByMichael CaseyCBS NewsJanuary 20, 2015, 4:43 PM

range-r.jpg

Law enforcement officers across the country have begun using a hand-held radar device that allows them to effectively see through walls.

While such devices are likely to make a police officer or firefighter’s job safer, they are also raising privacy concerns. The American Civil Liberties Union has criticized the use of devices like Range-R from L3 CyTerra, which uses “a highly sensitive Doppler motion detector” to see through most building materials up to 12 inches thick and can detect a person’s breathing from 50 feet away.

“They clearly are useful for law enforcement. But just because they are useful doesn’t mean they should be unregulated by the law,” Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney with the ACLU and an expert on privacy issues.

Wessler said a 2001 Supreme Court ruling determined that police must seek a warrant when using electronic surveillance gear to see through walls. Though that case dealt with infrared cameras, he said radar technology was cited.

“If police wanted to enter my home to conduct search or make an arrest, it has always been clear they would have to get a warrant from a judge first because the home is the most private place we have,” Wessler said. “The rule should not be any different because they are using powerful radar gear instead of breaking down my door.”

USA Today reported that L3 CyTerra said it has sold about 200 devices to 50 law enforcement agencies at a cost of about $6,000 each. The company did not confirm this to CBS News.

On its website, the L3 CyTerra promotes the device for use by law enforcement agencies, suggesting that it can be used to determine the presence and location of assailants or hostages inside a building prior to entry, locate injured or stranded people inside buildings damaged by earthquakes or flooding, or quickly determine whether people are trapped inside a room or building.

These devices — which the newspaper said was were first used overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq — have been introduced quietly and with little fanfare.

However, they have begun to get some scrutiny from the federal courts, with USA Today finding a reference to the device in a December 10th Circuit appellate court decision. A radar device was used to help track down fugitive Steven Denson, who was wanted for parole violations, to a house in Wichita.

The three-judge panel upheld the search. But in its decision, the judges wrote, “we don’t doubt for a moment that the rise of increasingly sophisticated and invasive search technologies will invite us to venture down this way again — and soon.”

“It’s obvious to us and everyone else in this case that the government’s warrantless use of such a powerful tool to search inside homes poses grave Fourth Amendment questions,” the judges wrote. “New technologies bring with them not only new opportunities for law enforcement to catch criminals but also new risks for abuse and new ways to invade constitutional rights.”

Patrick Rodenbush, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said the agency was looking over the court ruling.

“While it is our position to not discuss or disclose any investigative techniques, the Department of Justice is currently reviewing the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling,” he told CBS News.

Source:  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/police-radars-range-r-that-can-see-through-walls-worry-privacy-advocates/

Slavery in U.S. Prison System

Angola Prison: LouisianaThe Justice Department reported in August that there are nearly 1.6 million men and women incarcerated in the United States — currently the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. This startling figure tops off a decade of rapid expansion of America’s prison population, fueled by a “war on drugs” that is steadily undermining the rights so succinctly expressed in the Bill of Rights more than 200 years ago. Angola Prison: Louisiana As 1995 drew to a close, one out of every 167 Americans was in prison or jail, compared to one out of 320 in 1985, when the crack cocaine trade began to proliferate. The total number of inmates has more than doubled in the past decade, and we just can’t seem to build enough prisons to keep them all in. Add the trend towards private prison facility management and corporate use of prison labor, and you have an extremely unsettling social situation. Are we witnessing the creation of a slave labor force for the corporate New World Order? Quite possibly, if the Oakhill Correctional Institute in Dane County, Wisconsin serves as a model. Seventeen inmates crowded in a makeshift basement factory in that facility crank out over a million dollars’ worth of office chairs per year, in exchange for wages ranging from twenty cents to $1.50 per hour. The operation is run by Badger State Industries, the Wisconsin prison industries program, which employs 600 inmates and which raked in a $1.2 million profit in 1995. In the past, to protect manufacturers from unfair competition, Wisconsin allowed sale of prison-made goods only to state and local government agencies. But Governor Tommy Thompson’s new state budget allows commercial entities to use prison facilities and labor for manufacturing purposes. The money will be used to pay for the costs of incarcerating the prisoners — including the ones who work in the factories. Wisconsin is following the lead of other states, such as California, Tennessee, Kansas, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Nevada and Iowa, which have incorporated prisoners into the labor force, placing artificial downward pressure on wages. Thousands of state and federal prisoners are currently generating more than $1 billion per year in sales for private businesses, often competing directly with the private sector labor force. The Correctional Industries Association predicts that by the year 2000, 30 percent of America’s inmate population will labor to create nearly $9 billion in sales for private business interests. Oregon has even started advertising its prison labor force and factories, claiming that businesses who utilize incarcerated workers would otherwise go overseas for cheap labor (thanks, GATT and NAFTA!). In 1995, an overwhelming majority of Oregon voters passed a constitutional amendment that will put 100 percent of its state inmates to work. And they’ll be making a lot more than license plates and road signs. One product of Oregon’s inmate factories are uniforms for McDonald’s. Tennessee inmates stitch together jeans for Kmart and JC Penney, as well as $80 wooden rocking ponies for Eddie Bauer. Mattresses and furniture are perennial favorites in prison factories, and Ohio inmates even produced car parts for Honda, until the United Auto Workers intervened. Prisoners have been employed doing data entry, assembling computer circuit boards and even taking credit card ticket orders for TWA. But private industry isn’t the only sector eager to exploit cheap prison labor. On June 14, 1995, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly rejected an amendment to the 1996 Defense Authorization bill which would have permitted the Defense Department to use nonviolent offender inmates provided by state or local corrections facilities to do construction and maintenance services at military installations. Although prison manufacturing facilities do offer short-term benefits at a time when budgets are strained to the breaking point, the system is ripe for exploitation and abuse by government and corporate entities seeking to cut financial corners. Proponents of prison labor say it is “good” for inmates, providing income and on-the-job training they would have never received otherwise. But due to a lack of restrictions to prevent abuse of the prison labor force, many inmates view the situation very differently. At Soledad near Monterey, California, prisoners earn 45 cents per hour making blue work shirts, which, once deductions are taken out, adds up to $60 for a month of 40-hour work weeks. “They put you on a machine and expect you to put out for them,” Soledad inmate Dino Navarrete told Arm the Spirit. “Nobody wants to do that. These jobs are jokes to most inmates here.”So why do they do it? In California, prisoners who refuse to work are moved to discliplinary housing and lose canteen priveleges, as well as “good time” credit that slices hard time off their sentences. Corporatization of prison labor abuses inmates, exploits their labor and inevitably reduces the value of the private sector work force. What is a troubling trend today may become a social and economic disaster in the future. ParaScope will be keeping a close eye on the trend towards prison labor; stay tuned for future updates on the situation. For more information, see the sources below, or consult the Prison Activist Resource Center. Sources: Sniffen, Michael J., “One out of 167 Americans Incarcerated,” Associated Press, 18 August 1996. Elbow, Steven, “Doing Time, 9 to 5,” Isthmus, 1995. – See more at: http://www.darkgovernment.com/news/slavery-in-u-s-prison-system/#sthash.WYHG4Kqw.dpuf