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Thursday, March 06, 2014

Letters from Prison: Ray Jasper's Last Thoughts before Death Row

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A Texas prisoner, Ray Jasper, scheduled to be put to death on March 19 in the Lone Star state, has some compelling things to say about the prison experience in a letter he penned and sent to Gawker about three weeks ago. His observations on prison life and how it mirrors slavery is captivating.

Read an except of what Jasper calls what could be his "final statement on earth."

... Under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution all prisoners in America are considered slaves. We look at slavery like its a thing of the past, but you can go to any penitentiary in this nation and you will see slavery ...

If a prisoner refuses to work and be a slave, they will do their time in isolation as a punishment. You have thousands of people with a lot of prison time that have no choice but to make money for the government or live in isolation. The affects of prison isolation literally drive people crazy. Who can be isolated from human contact and not lose their mind? ...

I think prison sentences have gotten way out of hand. People are getting life sentences for aggravated crimes where no violence had occurred. I know a man who was 24 years old and received 160 years in prison for two aggravated robberies where less that $500 was [stolen] and no violence took place. There are guys walking around with 200 year sentences and they're not even 30 years old. Its outrageous. Giving a first time felon a sentence beyond their life span is pure oppression. Multitudes of young people have been thrown away in this generation.

The other side of the coin is there are those in the corporate world making money off prisoners, so the longer they're in prison, the more money is being made. It's not about crime & punishment, it's about crime & profit. Prison is a billion dollar industry. In 1996, there were 122 prisons opened across America. Companies were holding expos in small towns showing how more prisons would boost the economy by providing more jobs.

How can those that invest in prisons make money if people have sentences that will allow them to return to free society? If people were being rehabilitated and sent back into the cities, who would work for these corporations? That would be a bad investment. In order for them to make money, people have to stay in prison and keep working. So the political move is to tell the people they're tough on crime and give people longer sentences....

... You have people like Michael Jordan who invest millions of dollars in the prison system. Any shrewed businessman would if you have no empathy for people locked up and you just want to make some money.

Read the entire letter HERE.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes this is the new slavery, but we need more mentors for our young men and women so that they will keep their noses clean and stay focused so that they will not end up in this trap. I know its hard bad things happen to good people also. It's sad that Mr. Jasper fell in deep and the only way out for him is DEATH. Let us pray and keep praying for the future of this world. MaDear

Alicia Benjamin said...

I believe he's already "out." He's thinking freely. Yes, it's sad he had to come to prison and face death to do that, but he does seem to be thinking quite clearly consciously. Can't say that for many who aren't in prison. But then again -- there is the prison of the mind.

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