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There's people making money all over the place there.

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  3. How it's become an agency of social control..

But it's not a business in the way that it's been in the past. I think the criminal justice system today is a sort of warehouse system for people that have been excluded from the economic system.

The Cocaine Diaries: A Venezuelan Prison Nightmare

There's very little profitable labor going on in the prisons. In the 19th and earlyth centuries, prison labor was extraordinarily exploited, there were factories in the prison. In the South after the defeat of Reconstruction, black prisoners were literally worked to death for private companies.

That really began to end in the early 20th century because cheap labor became available and easily used all over the world. The prison labor became less and less important to industry and to corporations. They could get cheap labor outside the prison system. From pretty early in the 20th century to the present, there's been a massive decline of the economic exploitation of prison labour. Today, I see the prison and policing systems as agencies of social control, of dealing with populations that have been marginalized by the economic system, and less as a business, less as a business model.

It's not a particularly popular view by critics of the criminal justice system on the left, but I think it's a mistake to think of exploitation of prison labor as what's driving things now. In your book, you talk about the criminal stereotype. Why do you think such stereotypes should be re-examined? You know, a lot of activists today talk about how we need to fight criminal justice injustices at the local or state level.

But I think looking at the history of what's happened, there's a real relationship, an inter-relationship between what happens nationally and what happens locally.

If you look at the history of the FBI or the development of professional policing or these regular campaigns to round up people who are seen as dangerous and in the opposition and undermining American values [it starts nationally]. For example, current campaigns against so-called terrorism gives the green light to police departments to go after progressive organizations. The FBI, under the rule of J. Edgar Hoover, for decades formulated the view that African Americans were the most dangerous people in the United States.

They put out that African Americans were uppity, that they were claiming rights that they shouldn't have, that they were moving too quickly, that they were riddled with communists, and that they were trying to undermine the American system. That set of messages that the FBI sent out around the country then gave the green light to local police departments to imagine and think of African American people as being subversive and dangerous, and always having to be on guard against them and to take preventive action.

I think this inter-relationship of ideas about dangerousness and un-Americanism are a very strong feature of the history of the American criminal justice system. And it comes mostly at the national level, but then the national level influences what happens at the local level. In the history of incarceration, how big an impact has the war on drugs had on prison systems nationwide, in your opinion? The war on drugs has had a major impact on justifying the round-up and arrests of millions of people.

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But if it hadn't been drugs, it would've been something else. I don't think it's drug behavior or sale of drugs or the illegality of drugs that has driven the campaigns to crack down and arrest and incarcerate millions of people. I think drugs become one means amongst many to identify certain populations as being dangerous and in opposition to American values. Some of the diaries and exposes that have come out from the Nixon government, which was really a main promoter of the war on drugs, shows that the issue of drugs was literally just a device or a manipulation to go after populations.

We live in a society that has massive use of drugs, illegal and legal, probably more so per capita than any comparable country in the world. So it's not so much that the government has gone after drug use, illegal drug use, as it's gone after the populations that get tied to drug use. He currently lives in Dublin. In , after the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, Irish plumber Paul Keany was struggling to pay off a loan and a new van, and support one of his two teenaged kids. That is, if he hadn't gotten caught. Arrested before boarding his return flight, Keany is escorted to the drug squad headquarters where he is raped by police and handcuffed to a stairwell for days without food.

Once in the infamous Los Teques prison, where he was to serve eight years for his crimes, he is forced to pay the wing boss and his armed henchmen in exchange for protection.

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It would be an understatement to say it was money well spent-during Keany's incarceration, an inmate blows himself up with a grenade, another shoots his wife in the head on visitor's day, a deadly riot erupts, Keany is stabbed, and all the while the corrupt National Guard keeps a cursory watch while supplying the prisoners with weapons and drugs.

Keany relates these and other atrocities without an ounce of self-pity, and his final escape from Venezuela will leave readers with sweaty palms and clenched teeth. All rights reserved. Sign in Register Wishlist 0.


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  • Promotional Information A shocking expose of drugs, riots, rape, kidnap and murder Promotional Information A shocking expose of drugs, riots, rape, kidnap and murder About the Author Paul Keany was a successful self-employed plumber until the Irish property crash in Reviews In , after the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, Irish plumber Paul Keany was struggling to pay off a loan and a new van, and support one of his two teenaged kids.

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