Stupid Girls

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation

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Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation

It's very easy to see how anybody can be scooped up into the prison industrial complex of the USA. "Occupy" protesters, booked and printed by the hundreds, most for simply engaging in peaceful protest are an example. While most are released within a few hours, all data collected on them is retained in police (and who knows what other) data bases.

I read a story recently of 2 young teens, arrested IN THEIR HOME, in the presence of their mother, when police noticed they were video recording an arrest across the street. Police kicked the door in, with no warrant, and took the kids into custody: booking them and printing them. The children were later released, but police retain the prints and other, personal data collected on them.

Paranthetical note: My internet search for this story, "teens arrested for video recording," got this: About 8,770,000 results.
Yes, many are duplicate stories. But this is happening often, all around the country.

It's bad enough one of the only viable sources of employment is the military industrial complex, these days, the PRISON industrial complex is sweeping us up. On a side note, drug rehab. facilities and mental "health" services are also being privatized, and heavily influenced by Big PhRMA.

Trans* women of Color, profiled and presumed to be sex workers are another. Yes, Trans* folk of Color, as well as other Queer folk (particularly throw away youth), engage in sex work -- often survival sex work -- at higher proportions than gen. pop.

We become the fodder, the corporate, bottom line as our people are swept off the streets into for-profit prisons, at tax payers' expense. This makes the "surplus" population profitable.
Here is an excerpt from an interview with Beth at about  the relationship between dominant anti-domestic/sexual violence efforts and the “prison nation.”
You describe the U.S. as a “prison nation.” What do you mean by that?
The prison nation, which is a broader concept than the prison industrial complex, for me represents the combination of both incarceration in the literal sense – an influx of people into the criminal legal system in all of its apparatus: jails, prisons, detention centers, etc. … [It is an] increase in arrest and removal of people from their communities into facilities, but it also represents the ideological shift and policy changes that use criminalization and punishment as a response to a whole range of social problems. Not just crime, but also things like policing people who are on welfare, using the child protective services system to control families, the ways that schools have become militarized. So it’s a broad notion of using the arm of the law to control people, especially people who are disadvantaged and come from disadvantaged communities.
What's truly terrifying about this is the perversion of civil rights and social justice activism to fuel the machine, disempower low income folk and people of Color. Whole communities are being fragmented and families torn apart. We can no longer trust our neighbors, who might utilize such "services" as Child Protection or even Animal Control as revenge for petty grudges, via anonymous tips to hotlines. These days, everybody is a potential "snitch."

If we think Queer & GenderQueer folk are immune to these abuses, we aren't paying attention.

We are being processed like factory goods.

 And a lot of that harsh sanctioning of violence against women really grew out of, not feminist organizing to end the problem of violence against women, but a parallel criminalization of everything. The Violence Against Women Act really lined up right against the other crime bills that were passed primarily in the mid-1990s. So on the one hand, this is good news for anti-violence activists, in terms of criminalizing violence against women. But on the other hand, these crimes disproportionately impacted black communities, and so it was kind of a mixed result for African-American people. It created a schism, especially for African-American women, but also I think for African-American families and communities more generally, because we were taking position against mass incarceration at the same time that mass incarceration was being used as a tool to respond to the crime of violence against women.

We are the bed fillers. On the one hand, the laws protect middle class and higher property/earning potential/prestige/privilege.

On the other hand, laws are twisted to leave the economically exploited, the Queer & GenderQueer, the people of Color even more vulnerable to systemic exploitation.

We are not citizens; we are commodities, products, far worse than just under slumlords, predatory lending, corrupt police, payday loans, rent-to-own and blood banks. Now, our very bodies, on shelves in privatized prisons -- or forced into active service through lack of employment opportunities, are product.

That white middle-class or wealthy heterosexual married women or women on elite college campuses were at risk of violence against women and the attention, the resources, the analysis, went toward protecting those women at the expense of women who didn’t fall into those more normative categories. So it became hard to understand how a prostitute could be raped, for example. Or how a woman who is a substance abuser could be battered in her household. It became a sense of victimization tied to a sympathetic image of who could be hurt and how terrible it was that those women were hurt, as opposed to the real everywoman that we were trying to argue for.