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Marilyn Buck

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Prisons, Social Control, and Political Prisoners

Prisons continue to serve their main purpose: to warehouse and “disappear” the “unacceptable.” Prisons exist to deprive their captives of their liberties and human agency, as well as to punish them. These institutions stigmatize prisoners through moralistic denunciations and indictments based on bad genes — skin color as a crime. The law — a political institution in itself — provides the framework for the war of social control against oppressed nations, working classes, and noncompliant women. The state shows little mercy to its political enemies. More than a few political prisoners have been imprisoned for nearly two decades and some for nearly three decades. To be a political prisoner is not a matter of standing higher in a “hierarchy” of prisoners. Where one stands is a matter of consciousness, not of social status or privilege. It is placement based on a political practice and international law. More political prisoners will emerge as it becomes more imperative to resist the rapacious, antihuman system in the United States, and as our social and political movements grow stronger and more directly challenge globalization, capitalism, and the increasingly militarized police state. Consequently, active struggles need to support those who act consciously and politically.

prison, prisoners — political prisoners; social control

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 27, No. 3 (2000): 25-28