If you want to understand why America has become the incarceration nation watch this penetrating exchange between Bill Moyers and David Simon, co-producer of HBO’s The Wire. Simon gets to the guts of the matter:
“There are about 749 different shows, dramas and comedies on television right now that you can watch. You know, 748 of them are about the America that I inhabit, that you inhabit, that most of the viewing public, I guess, inhabits. There was one about the other America. And it was arguing passionately about a place where, let’s face it, the economic rules don’t apply in the same way. Half of the adult black males in my city are unemployed. That’s not an economic model that actually works.
These really are the excess people in America, we– our economy doesn’t need them. We don’t need ten or 15 percent of our population. And certainly the ones that are undereducated, that have been ill served by the inner city school system, that have been unprepared for the technocracy of the modern economy. We pretend to need them. We pretend to educate the kids. We pretend that we’re actually including them in the American ideal, but we’re not. And they’re not foolish. They get it.”
You can find the entire transcript or watch the video here. I’ve seen it twice and was mesmerized both times. Better still, rent the entire five seasons of The Wire. It’s strong medicine, but it works.