Tag: prison-industrial compex

The two phases of the prison-industrial complex: the war on drugs and the war on immigrants

By Alan Bean

This essay was presented at the recent Samuel DeWitt Proctor conference in Dallas, Texas.

I went from being a Baptist preacher to my current work as a justice advocate in July of 1999.  A massive drug bust hit the little farming community of Tulia, Texas, putting forty-seven people, most of them black, in jails and prisons.  Some of us didn’t think it was wise to let a gypsy cop with a reputation for dishonesty send men and women to prison for up to 300 years on nothing but his uncorroborated say-so.

As the long battle for justice evolved, I started asking how it had come to this.  The locals assured me that Tulia hardly had a single black resident in 1950 when they figured out how to pump the waters of the Ogallala Aquifer up to the dry prairie.  Suddenly, Swisher County was blooming like the proverbial rose and share croppers from Deep East Texas were migrating westward.  They were forced to live in little shanty towns on the wrong side of the tracks.  There was hardly any running water or police protection and everyone, especially the children, suffered through the winter months.  But there was more than enough work to go around.  It didn’t pay well, for sure, but it was enough to keep food on the table and the young folk out of trouble.  Most of the time, anyway. (more…)