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Detroit Raw by Sam Riddle

Prisons don’t work

By Sam Riddle
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Prisons don’t work. But incarceration of human expendables makes some ignorant azz white folk feel good, especially those making billions off the prison-industrial complex. KMA.

It took President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Holder a while to say out loud and implement into official policy what both knew when they were first sworn into their respective offices but dared not say aloud — especially during that first term, or there would have been no second term for President Obama.

Sam after a run at Butner Federal prison

Sam after a run at Butner Federal prison

As CNN and other news sources have noted, Attorney General Holder said the nation is “coldly efficient in jailing criminals,” but that it “cannot prosecute or incarcerate” its way to becoming safer.”

“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no truly good law enforcement reason,” Holder told the American Bar Association.

Having declared that reality to the August ABA, there are still many challenges for Holder and the president to ensure that policy flows do not trickle into Department of Justice institutional behavior patterns.

OK, prison does not work. Federal mandatory sentencing guidelines are a manifestation of institutional racism and must go. Law enforcement and jackazz right-wing lunatics ignore the data and unfairly unleash billions to target American people of color for injustice in the name of law and order. That crime against humanity will continue because it gets these crackers elected and it makes billions for the business of prisons.

The facts are indisputable. America is obsessive compulsive about imprisoning her expendables that are viewed as a drain on resources better spent in lily white suburbs or quenching America’s thirst for military dominance in a world that is aghast at this nation’s jacked up shoot-first-stand-your-ground foreign policy.

Remember the Alamo, 9/11, and the Black punk that sold weed to and banged your valley girl, but when is enough, enough in the vengeance game? Greed and an insatiable sado-masochistic need to inflict punishment rooted in racial hatred result in America, 5 percent of the world’s population, having 25 percent of the world’s prison population. KMA.

As one that did time in a real federal prison not a “be good” Martha Stewart camp, I have seen firsthand the youngsters who are worlds away from being drug kingpins that are serving inhumane sentences for nonviolent drug-related offenses that will never see the outside world until they are seniors.

I taught classes that led to them earning GEDs with little hope they could build a resume for outside employment. Matter of fact, want to cut crime? Educate, train and channel the expendables to jobs. A job, not prison, reduces crime.

The University of Prisons has more alumni in Detroit than Wayne State, MSU, U of M and the University of Detroit combined. We must place a premium on growing human beings rather than labeling, tracking and incarcerating layer after layer of expendables bearing human flesh. To close the revolving door of recidivism, we must have real job training with real employment opportunities beyond the carwash for ex-cons that are not billionaire Al Taubman.

Elysium-like conditions that divide and perpetuate conflict and crime will eventually tear this nation and planet apart and there ain’t no outer space refuge for the 1 percenters — yet (but there is Belle Isle).

We must never let haters cause us to lose hope or dislike ourselves and never let haters make you weak in your faith. Keep the faith. Stay on the battlefield.

Sam Riddle is political director for Michigan National Action Network. He can be reached at or

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