Thursday, January 12, 2012

Creating lifelong customers: the school-to-prison pipeline and the private prison industry

Madison Ruppert, Contributing Writer
Activist Post

As if the United States did not have a bloated enough prison population – which I think nearly every single American realizes is a painful truth – our school systems are being transformed into yet another way to funnel people into the private prison system.

School systems around the country, but especially Texas, have begun criminalizing what would otherwise be normal childish behavior.

One example given by the British Guardian in a recent fantastic article covering this issue, an overweight and unpopular girl was charged with a criminal misdemeanor after spraying perfume because children in the classroom were teasing her and saying she smelled bad.

That’s right; a 12-year-old girl was arrested for “disrupting class” simply for attempting to appease cruel students.

Unfortunately, this example of the young Sarah Bustamantes is far from isolated. Kids can be arrested for anything ranging from possession of cigarettes, so-called inappropriate clothing, and even something as inconsequential as being late to class.

While the Guardian’s article is surprisingly comprehensive, they do seem to be under the impression that this trend is just a natural consequence of misinformed decisions.

I, on the other hand, find that this trend is part of the large-scale growth of the private prison industry which seeks to create an endless supply of customers who they can charge the state for while leveraging said prisoners for slave labor.

Criminalizing the youth is being done at an earlier and earlier age in order to create these consumers as early as possible and lock them in to an inescapable system.

One criminal charge can mean the difference between getting a student loan, a job, or a spot in a competitive academic program.

With the job market as dismal as it is nowadays, a young person with a criminal record is likely going to be passed over for the many other applicants who do not have such a record.

This leads to a vicious cycle: get charged with a crime, can’t get a job, have to
resort to crime to survive, get charged with another crime, still can’t get a job, have to resort to crime, etc. ad infinitum.

This cycle can lock someone into the world of crime for their entire life and when this starts at an early age, it is even more likely to be the case.

The Justice Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization which aims to change the public discussion around justice reform while forwarding “policies that promote well-being and justice for all people and communities,” put out a landmark report in June 2011 which dissects the private prison complex.

The report, entitled “Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Strategies” breaks down exactly how these companies go about making sure the system is as inefficient as possible in order to guarantee a steady customer base.

In the introduction they write, “While private prison companies may try to present themselves as just meeting existing ‘demand’ for prison beds and responding to current ‘market’ conditions, in fact they have worked hard over the past decade to create markets for their product.”

“As revenues of private prison companies have grown over the past decade, the companies have had more resources with which to build political power, and they have used this power to promote policies that lead to higher rates of incarceration,” they add.

The policies we see in Texas perfectly play in to this by creating a demand from an early age and effectively relegating what should really be behavior to be disciplined by teachers and parents to criminal behavior to be disciplined by the so-called justice system.

The most glaring issue here is that police are actually arresting and charging children for the most ludicrous of crimes (if you can even call them that); all while the law enforcement officers themselves are allowed to get away with murder.

The problem is not just these policies are creating lifetime criminals and clogging up our already bloated prison system, it is that these police officers far too often cross the line in disastrous ways.

One glaring example that springs to mind is the disturbing case of 14-year-old Derek Lopez, who was murdered by a police officer after doing nothing more than punching a fellow student a single time.

“It wasn’t a fight. It was nothing,” the student who was attacked by Lopez later said in a sworn deposition, yet it still got Lopez executed.

Another example is 15-year-old Marshawn Pitts, a special needs student who was brutalized by a police officer for not having his shirt tucked in: 

Or 16-year-old Pleajhai Mervin of Palmdale, California, who had her wrist broken and was arrested after spilling some cake during lunch and leaving the crumbs.

Or in 2007 in Chicago when one sixth grader described the following horrific treatment: “The security person grabbed me by me head [sic] and swung me into the door and started hitting me in the stomach. When I fell on the ground, my arm got caught between the door and he kept slamming the door on my arm to stop other students from getting out.”

These are just microcosmic examples of a macrocosmic and wholly destructive trend that is sweeping the United States.

The situation in Texas is a great example of how this is being done at a policy level in order to create lifelong customers for the private prison industry, but many other states have the same thing going on – albeit not as blatantly.

In a 2010 report released by the Community Rights Campaign and the Los Angeles Chapter of Dignity in Schools entitled “Police in LAUSD Schools: The Need for Accountability and Alternatives” it is revealed that reports of police misconduct gathered from over 1,500 student surveys across 18 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools include: “excessive force and restraint, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, intimidation, frequent and indiscriminate use of mace and pepper spray on large numbers of students, racial profiling, handcuffs used on students’ whose 'crime' was being late, frequent searches, and more.”

Clearly this problem is greater than just one school district or just one state. This is a national problem which does nothing but create more crime by forcing people into becoming lifelong criminals who provide slave labor to private corporations while said corporations rake in absurd profits from taxpayers.

On an even larger level, this trend is representative of a disastrous epidemic: profiting from suffering.  This takes shape in the form of war profiteering, prison profiteering, ineffective and/or harmful pharmaceutical/health industry profiteering and more.

I find this instance to be one of the most troubling because it is shaping the way our young people look at life in the United States.

If you grow up in a prison-like environment, even being arrested for throwing paper airplanes, it is only natural to think that you might grow up viewing the world in a similar manner.

It also classifies our children as criminals and suspects in their most formative years, once again preparing their minds for a life of criminalization, dehumanization and degradation.

Thankfully, this is something that can be approached from the local level – where one person can make more of an impact than anywhere else.

By bringing these issues up and forcing the discussion of the undue criminalization of our children into public debate, some changes very well might be made.

However, if the propaganda and fear is pushed with the apparent effectiveness that it is right now we very well might see the American police state come to every school with disastrous consequences we are only just beginning to see.

This article first appeared at

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at


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Anonymous said...

Our local High School, somehow* supposedly one of the best in the state, has a school cop and "lock down" during class times. They're just raising them to be good slaves to the Corporations, and if they can't be then they can go make Wackenhut $55,000 a year in taxpayer built cages.

*according to a student there there is only one set of textbooks for each class and students can not take textbooks home, and typically have no homework except for occasional papers. Less than half of students who start in the school end up graduating.

Anonymous said...

The police would rather go after school kids than gang bangers who kill school kids. The schools blame the parents for every childish behavior and act like all parents except those of their star students are no good. To judge that way, the teachers must be lousy parents themselves. It ain't a competition, it's our kids!!! And the police are supposed to be there to protect them from strangers and outsiders getting on the school grounds. If they're bored, they should replace them with people who actual care about the kids. I am sick of the police and their over-reactions to small things and under-reactions to serious crime. They're a bunch of scared idiots. They ruin families instead of helping anyone. They did it to me.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to sound like I have all the answers, but really, having lock downs during classroom time and armed police in the hallways is not school. It is prison. Already this sort of thing has produced at least two generations of people who think it is "normal." The similarities between government prisons and government schools are many and increasing every day.

When I bring up homeschooling as a viable alternative, some people roll their eyes as if the idea is just ridiculous, but really all children are homeschooled. The only variation is the degree to which they are. Children enjoy learning naturally. It's what they do, and they do it all the time --especially at home.

Children who do not have a parent to stay with them at home and teach them have to have someplace to go where they will be safe during the day while both parents are working at jobs outside the home. In such a situation, if the government "school" is the place the child must go, it should be made clear to the child that it is supposed to be safe for them there in the government building where they must stay while the parents are out working; that they are to be on their best behavior while they are there or it will no longer be safe; that good behavior includes demonstrating respect to the authorities who are there because they have the power to make things very bad for the child and for the parents if respect is not demonstrated. This is not real respect. It is phony respect for their phony authority but it is nonetheless necessary to ensure that the child and the family remain safe.

It should also be emphasized to such incarcerated children that they are expected to learn core skills at home, no matter what they are being taught in the government building where they spend their time every day. In the government "school" they will learn to take tests and get high scores on tests. It is like a game, and the point is to get the highest score on the test. This will convince the authorities that the child is a "good student" which will make things better for them while they are in the government prison --I mean school-- and even for some time after they reach an age when they don't have to go anymore.

Modern school textbooks are not good teaching tools. Get some old ones, preferably from the 1950's or earlier, in a junk shop, garage sale, rummage sale, etc. Get a dictionary from the 1960's or earlier. Make the library a favorite place to visit. Take away the TV remote or better yet, get rid of the TV altogether. In addition to learning reading, writing, and math, children must learn logic and critical thinking.

Children whose parents can afford one parent staying home to teach them, but who are put in a government prison from the time they are five years old, are not getting a proper education even if being wealthy allows them to live in a fancy school district, unless they are spending substantial time learning at home.

Anonymous said...

I had to go to the courthouse today for some documents and ran into a mother that I knew. She and her son were there for "Tobacco Court". Her son is 14, and was given a citation at school for using a tobacco product. Court?!! In a county courtroom?!!! I remember when the kids and the teachers went out back and took smoke breaks together. Now the kids are criminals? Let me be clear, I think that cigarettes are filled with poison additives and are killing people. But when is it okay for police to cite a 14 year old in school for ANYTHING? What happened to the teacher calling the parents? I agree with the info in this article. Do something now to get control of your local government. I live in a small southern town, and we been progressively forced into a POLICE STATE. One cop's juvenile son shot his father in his sleep. He was tired of being put down. The cop died. Around here, if you are not a cop, you are a criminal and you are the enemy. They prey on kids and the weak, and will harass you until they find or make up something to pin on you. I was told today that 1 out of 7 people in the state of Tennessee currently has their driver's license suspended or revoked. Do you see a problem with this?
Everyone should watch the YouTube 2 part video called "Don't Talk To Cops".

part 1:,

part 2:

The first part is by a Regent University Law Professor, and the second part is done by officer George Bruch. Know your rights, and teach them to your family. Do it now. Tomorrow may be too late.

Anonymous said...

Bring the known War criminals to trial..

Anonymous said...

They do what they want with your children, How much will the slaves put up with..

Bring the war criminals to court.

Anonymous said...

And you can thank the United States Department of Education which has basically taken over public schools in this country for this sorry state of affairs. The U.S. Department of Education should be abolished in it's entirety and return education responsibilities to local control as it existed for over 200 years before the feds began to meddle with public schools beginning with Lyndon B. Johnson, and today, the feds entirely control public schools.

Anonymous said...

When a baby is born in the United States, a birth certificate is registered with the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the State of birth. The key word here is "registered" as registered in international commerce. The baby becomes the surety, whose energy is due at some future date. When the birth certificate is registered in the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Department of Treasury issues a bond on the birth certificate ($1,000,000) and the bond is sold at some securities exchange and perhaps bought by the Federal Reserve Bank, which then uses it as collateral in order to issue Federal Reserve Notes or some other form of "debt obligation" (see 18 USC §411). The bond is then held in trust for the Federal Reserve at the Depository Trust Corp. At 55 Water Street, in New York City, about two blocks down the street from the Fed. It is a high rise office building and the sign out front reads "The Tower of Power".

Anonymous said...

These are some great comments and links. The two video links are fantastic. Children are our future and we all know that. They are amazing sponges, that are wired to learn at birth. It is up to the parents to teach the kids, not the schools, I totally agree with everyone here. Whether they attend a government school or not it is up to the parents to build excellent people that are an asset to themselves and to our great country and that means understanding
what freedom is, how to protect it and why.
It means teaching your children to think critically and outside the box. It means being the main force in your children's life, not the TV and not his/her friends. This all requires planning work and dedication. This requires a 2 parent household or a multi-generation household. As someone in the household must work outside the home to provide food, clothing, shelter etc. and someone must be available all day everyday to provide the care and teaching of the children. If you cannot afford children do not have them. If you decide to have them, make a plan to benefit them in which they are the main focus!

Anonymous said...

If you look at wages in terms of real money and that's gold you will see the reason both parents have to work if there are two parents in the home. In 1920
Gold $20.68oz
Ford Model "T" Pickup $290 or 14oz Gold
Bricklayer $2860yr or 138oz Gold
2011 NOV
Gold $1750oz
Ford F-150 Pickup $23,000 or 13oz Gold
Bricklayer $66,000yr or 37oz Gold
As you can see the price of the truck stayed the same but look how far wages have gone down in real money. So now the GOV is taking care of the children and the Gov does not have love it takes care of things by force no matter what. I did not even figure in Taxes. Even if both parents had good paying jobs of 66K year there still 64oz of gold less than what one common tradesman could make 91 years ago. This is what happens when we have GOV involved in every part of our lives. And the wages going down in real money is what happens when we have central banks that create money out of nothing and charge interest the prices of stuff stays the same or go down wile we all become slaves to the powers and our children are raised by the GOV.

Anonymous said...

Found this article in audio format for the visually impaired like me: the less i have to look at a screen the better

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