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Green Party seeks abolition of Prison Nation and Police State abuses in the US

Greens promote sane justice system and security policies, including a halt to the War on Drugs and constitutional violations

Darryl! Moch

Darryl! Moch

As more and more Americans express alarm at the curtailment of rights and privacy and the increasing numbers of citizens locked up in prison, Green Party candidates and leaders are calling for rational security, law enforcement, and justice system policies.

“The US cannot be called a ‘free country’ as long as Prison Nation and Police State abuses are allowed to continue,” said Darryl! Moch, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. “The War on Drugs, privatized prisons, and other outrages have led to America’s record-high incarceration rate, with the proportionally highest prison population in the world. Racial disparities in arrests and sentencing have devastated black and brown communities. Instead of providing safety and civic peace, these policies have eroded our freedoms, safety, and the rule of law.”

Greens pointed to bipartisan landmarks in the growth of the Prison Industrial Complex and erosion of the US Constitution: 

  • President Reagan’s efforts to criminalize the poor and people of color, beginning with the Drug War and rhetoric about ‘welfare queens‘;
  • President Clinton’s expansion of the War on Drugs, privatization of prisons, programs to train civilian police in military tactics, and the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act; and
  • 9/11, which the Bush and Obama Administrations have used to justify attacks on constitutional rights in the name of the War on Terrorism.

“The billions of dollars made available for Homeland Security and the War on Terrorism quickly became a feeding trough for corporate contractors and lobbies that have a financial interest in the assault on freedom, privacy, and constitutional rights,” said Muhammed Malik, co-chair of the Miami-Dade Green Party and former racial justice specialist at ACLU Florida. Mr. Malik currently works with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition as an advocate for the restoration of civil rights for formerly convicted felons.

Greens listed a set of necessary reforms and reversals of current justice system policies:

Cancellation of the War on Drugs, which Greens call a colossal waste of billions in taxpayers’ money that has had virtually no effect on the drug trade, except to target the poor and place more ground-level drug pushers behind bars, while leaving criminal cartels in place to satisfy the high American demand for drugs. The Green Party supports drug legalization and treatment of addiction as a medical rather than criminal problem, which would put violent cartels out of business.

An end to racial disparities in policing and sentencing, which have resulted in mass imprisonment of young, black, brown, and poor Americans. Such disparities, which include brutal treatment by police and prison personnel, and the cheap labor provided by inmates have in effect continued the convict-lease system, which maintained slavery for blacks long after emancipation. The prison labor system pays inmates substandard or no wages for products made in poor safety conditions that undercut the prices of companies that don’t exploit prison labor.

An end to the private prison system, which has created financial incentives to lock up more and more Americans in order to increase the profits of private prison corporations and contractors.

Automatic restoration of civil rights for formerly convicted felons, with an end to policies that prevent them from reintegration into society, such as denial of housing, education, public benefits, and the right to vote. Greens say that such policies impose “permanent criminal” status on exconvicts and disenfranchise the poor and people of color who are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.

Release of political prisoners (or retrial in cases of conflicting evidence, e.g., Bradley Manning, Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal; release of prisoners locked up on the basis of violations of rights by police and prosecutors, and prisoners detained by racist border patrols, raids, and “Arizona laws” targeting Latinos. Greens have expressed concern about the expanded and unchecked power of prosecutors through policies like mandatory sentencing, zero tolerance, three-strikes laws, and severe limits imposed on judicial discretion.

A halt to the expansion of military operations into US civilian law enforcement and use of military tactics by civilian police departments. Some of these practices have been used for the brutal suppression by police of legitimate political dissent by US citizens, such as the protests by the Occupy Movement. The “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011” (HR 347) was passed by Congress recently to enable further police suppresson of protest by groups like Occupy Wall Street.

Abolition of the death penalty. The disregard for exculpatory evidence in the case of Troy Davis and other death-row inmates indicates that innocent people are being executed.

Repeal of the USA Patriot Act and cancellation of boondoggle “Homeland Security” contracts that contribute nothing towards public safety and only enrich favored companies at taxpayer expense.

Greens also asserted that an equitable justice system requires punishment of powerful people who have enjoyed impunity for serious crimes:

Officials responsible for war crimes and other serious violations of the US Constitution. Such violations include misleading the public to justify invasions of other countries (e.g., manipulation of intelligence and false claims that led to the Iraq War), the use of torture and extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention and denial of habeas corpus, and warrantless surveillance of US citizens. The Obama Administration has refused to investigate and prosecute Bush-Cheney officials for such violations and in many cases maintained the same abuses. The Obama Administration even introduced a new violation — assassination of suspected US citizens on orders from the White House, without due process. The targets of these violations have very often been Muslims and people of Middle-Eastern origin and political dissidents.

Corporations and corporate executives responsible for the fraudulent practices that triggered the Subprime Mortgage Crisis and 2008 economic meltdown; punishment has so far been rare and limited to SEC slaps on the wrist.

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