It’s painfully clear at this point that the gargantuan American carceral state, larger than Stalin’s gulags, is not and never was intended to rehabilitate criminals or teach any kind of disciplinary lesson. In reality, it has replaced the slavery state as an institution of white supremacy and social repression, funneling millions of poor people of color into cages for labor exploitation and siphoning tens of billions of tax dollars from the public into the pockets of private contractors and for-profit prison companies.
It is one of the single most socially destructive institutions in the United States today — so of course, Republicans want to make it larger.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) declared on Tuesday that we have a “major under incarceration problem in the United States” in response to a CNN story about rising crime rates during the 2020 pandemic, despite the fact that we have the largest prison population in the entire world. Some 2.12 million people languish in American prisons, abused and neglected as COVID-19 runs rampant through their filthy halls.
We have a major under-incarceration problem in America.
And it's only getting worse. https://t.co/guYdE7aHdb
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) April 6, 2021
Cotton’s sociopathic disregard for any of the root causes in this violence spike clearly shows that he cherishes the prison’s role in dehumanizing minorities and destroying their communities.
If he had bothered to read the article, he would have learned that experts believe the spikes in violence were likely fueled by desperation and nihilism brought on by the economic collapse and the social isolation of a pandemic — and even the refusal of his precious cops to do their jobs properly in the wake of anti-police brutality protests.
But none of that matters to Cotton, whose entire political career seems to be devoted to sending as many Americans to their deaths as possible, whether by bullet in Afghanistan or COVID-19 in a U.S. prison.
Social media immediately erupted in outrage at the Senator’s callous remarks:
Man, what? We have 4% of the world population and over 20% of its prisoners. We also have the highest incarceration rate and the worst recidivism.
Maybe stop using corrections and policing as punishment and start pumping that money into rehabilitation, for people and community.
— Sara from Michigan (@SarafromMI) April 6, 2021
sir have you considered volunteering to go to prison?
— hangar queen (@snackvampire) April 6, 2021
Are you serious? Ok, how about we start adding more by incarcerating politicians who lie to the American ppl to maintain wealth & power, and freeing those who are in prison for petty drug offenses which are LEGAL now in their states.
— Colleenie The Socialist Meanie ☘️ (@TheLeftTea) April 6, 2021
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.