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CI: Con Artists, Profit and Community Corrections

January 16, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Economic Terrorism, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

CI:  Con Artists, Profit and Community Corrections

by Kay Whitlock

There’s a con game, going on in the field of reducing prison populations, folks, and a big part of it is disguised under concepts like “community corrections” “alternatives to incarceration,” and “re-entry programs.”

The focus in this post is on the New Jersey “community corrections” confidence game. 

Like all swindles, this con game plays to and manages a variety of public perceptions, hopes and expectations:  reducing the prison population, reducing prison spending, ending the injustices of the so-called “war on drugs (particularly for those convicted of minor offenses),” emphasizing alternatives to incarceration wherever possible, relying on imprisonment only for the most violent offenders, and creating safer communities.  It’s a win-win for everyone, right?  Or so the public relations blitz on the subject seems to indicate.
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Take another look.  A while back, CI published “Confidence Men & Prison Reform,” an overview of the blitz and problem: profit-producing “prison reform” initiatives that are attracting uncritical “bipartisan” support in state legislatures.

This swindle has no intention of dismantling the racism and economic violence so foundational to the U.S. incarceration society.  But it does have every intention of strengthening the complex network of public and private interests, institutions, and corporations that make up the prison industrial complex – though it tries to use a variety of cosmetic tricks and a little sleight of hand to convince you you’re seeing something different.  As economist Paul Krugman says, what’s going on in New Jersey is part of “a broader pattern in which essential functions of government are being both privatized and degraded.” 

Here’s the New Jersey cautionary tale – revealed with special thanks to the New York Times and to Prison Legal News; their articles detailing aspects of this story are linked throughout this discussion.

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The Intersectional Model

May 08, 2011 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Economic Development, Intersectionality, White Privilege


Apparently, time, resources, and funds were deemed/considered necessary to substantiate the obvious: that there is a lack of diversity in the non-profit industrial complex. I am of two minds about such reports: on the one hand it is absolutely laughable that a written report is warranted to substantiate the obvious fact that single issue non-profits are still homogeneous from the bottom of the chain to the top of the chain; on the other hand, such reports are a necessary evil to document these trends/inequities, which reflect symptoms of a much larger problem.

In any event, the Women of Color Policy Network of my alma matter, NYUWagner, has published a phenomenal and necessary publication on adopting intersectionality as a model for social change [pdf].

An excerpt from Leading at the Intersections:

WE ALL HAVE POINTS OF PRIVILEGE & POINTS OF OPPRESSION.
Using an intersectional framework, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ability and other markers of difference intersect and inform one another. There is no hierarchy of oppression or discrimination. For example, an individual’s class or socioeconomic status may impact his or her experience as a woman or person of color with respect to access to resources and information.

THE GOAL OF THE MODEL IS TO ENSURE THAT ALL GROUPS AND COM- MUNITIES HAVE A VOICE IN SOCIAL CHANGE AND POLICY ADVOCACY EFFORTS.
In working to create a socially just world and advance inclusive public policies, it is important that all groups and communities are at the center and forefront of discussions for social and policy change. The Intersectional Approach Model for Policy and Social Change encourages power sharing across differences and communities with an eye toward creating opportunities for those who have been historically disadvantaged to have a seat at the decision-making table.

SYSTEMS & STRUCTURES OF DISCRIMINATION AND OPPRESSION ARE LINKED. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO CHALLENGE ONE SYSTEM OF DISCRIMINATION WITHOUT CHALLENGING OTHERS.
The Intersectional framework encourages social change leaders and policy advocates to make the links and connections between various forms of discrimination. The systems and structures that maintain racial and ethnic privilege in society are the same systems and structures used to maintain gender, class and heterosexual privilege.

Excellent work. Download PDF.