On "Corrections"

Here in the US, on the level of the states there are departments and agencies that parallel many functions that the federal government carries out. One of those has a name I’ve been thinking about, for many reasons: the Department of “Corrections”.

Consider what a “correction” is. A change in something that is at fault, somehow malfunctioning. Broken. Applied to humans, this implies that those under the control of the department of “corrections” are damaged people, people who need to be “corrected”, fixed. Think about the environment of being incarcerated though:

-Under constant surveillance, constant suspicion, denied and not trusted even with things that are considered trivial on the outside despite the violations of liberty that still occur due to the existence of the rulers & the rules they impose on us. This is supposed to “correct” a human being, assuming that they are “damaged” how this system implies they are?

-Living in a constant state of threat and fear. Fear of being assaulted, either by others in your situation or by the guards, or even by the other inmates at the order of the guards. No one concerned about your safety, treated as less than human, disposable, to be beaten, stabbed & raped on a whim with not a care your wounds or ailments whether physical or mental. In fact, people make jokes about it! Your torment is seen as funny! THIS is supposed to “correct” a human being?

-Used to demonstrate the deliberate loophole in the 13th Amendment, forced to labor for pennies if anything, so that our cars can have their convenient identification for the modern day slave-catchers known as the police, so that streets can be cleaned without the indignity of the ruling class having to pay a decent wage, so that moneyed people who think themselves “progressive” because they listen to NPR & vote for Democrats can only pay a somewhat exorbitant markup on produce instead of a ridiculously exorbitant one. Even at times just worked for the sake of imposing work! Useless, pointless work! That toil, that crushing of dignity, that imposition of routine at all costs… THAT is supposed to be a “correction”? A making of a damage whole, a salving of a fault??

Clearly, with recidivism & how having been incarcerated follows people like a Scarlett letter, closing off even more opportunities after release (assuming you make it out…), the idea is about as far from “correcting” anything as one can get, under any view of the term that one not into sadism would recognize. The very existence of this system and all its qualities demonstrates what those who brought it into being see as the “correct” condition of humanity: suffering, humiliation, violence, and ultimately death.

What would be a true correction, on the level of society, would be the end of such a monstrous system, and a reconsideration of all people as human beings, rather than chattel or waste, leading to alternatives to the state and its boot. As long as the carceral state exists, we are all damaged.

(Of course, federal prisons have the same problem, but at least they don’t have the nerve to sugarcoat their purpose in DoubleSpeak. It does what it says on the tin, Prison is as Prison does…)


About b-psycho

Left-libertarian blogger & occasional musician.
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