The prison- industrial complex is described as a characteristic of the rapid expansion of the United States’ inmate population influenced from political campaigns, private prison companies and businesses that often distribute supplies and goods to government prison agencies for profit. The prison- industrial complex are corporations that contract cheap prison labor, surveillance technology, construction companies, private companies, as well as companies that serve food and medical supplies, and lawyers that represent them. This term, “prison- industrial complex,” refers to the network of participants who prioritize their personal financial gain over societies economic gain for paid prisoners or rehabilitating criminals. Such supporting groups assert the construction of new prisons with the potential for profit which is encouraged of increase sentencing of incarceration for more personal benefactions, therefore leading to unjust and extensive convictions, specifically affecting people of color at particularly higher rates.
Specialist have identified that the incarceration rate is increasing dependent on the crime. The upper class uses imprisonment as a way to suppress the lower class, which is usually filled with the Latinos or African Americans. Prison is simply a tool to control “dangerous” minorities so that they can maintain their position as the upper one percent living in the United States. Angela Davis, a political activist, academic and author, whom is prominent in counterculture activist and close involvement in the Civil Rights Movement said that “the political economy of prisons relies on racialized assumptions of criminality and on racist practices in arrest, conviction, and sentencing patterns” (Davis). Thusly, once we strip away from the false imprisonment situation that we build our political economy upon, we see what is revealed as a racist, class bias, which provokes the capitalist profit consumption. The prison industrial system dominates the social wealth that needs to be addressed leading to a uncontrollable spin of falsely accused minority prisoners. Specifically, the mass incarceration of African American citizens during the 1980’s was directed in the undermining of black political power. They took away prisoners having their exercise to vote, which lead to exhaustion of the minorities living in rural homes, resulting in African Americans living in urban areas losing their influence in politics as well.
The War on Drugs has significantly influenced the vast development of the prison industrial complex as well. The policy measures drug abuse as a criminal issue which directly fuels the very existence of the prison- industrial complex. Since 40th presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan, constructed the “war on drugs” in the 1980’s, incarceration rates tripled and led to the majority of the United States inmate population in federal prison. The American prisons are overpopulated with drug users via laws that were implemented by Reagan and Nixon, making the United States the most incarcerated individuals than any other nation. The War on Drugs has disproportionately targeted African Americans and resulted to reinforce the institutionalized racism embedded in the prison- industrial complex. Though data collects the illegal use of drugs among white men is almost equivalent to those of black men, black men are five times more likely to be arrested for a drug offense. Drug crimes in California are considered illegal if one possess, manufactures, or distributes drugs that are classified as having potential for drug abuse.
Such substances that are considered a threat is cocaine, heroin, and morphine. However, the majority of the United States have African Americans convicted of drug possession, drug dealing, trafficking, and drug use to be convicted the most, in contrast the majority that are actually convicted are Caucasians in California. The United States prison- industrial complex and drug policy both underly on a foundation of racism.