America has more prisoners than any country in the world, more prisoners than at the height of the Soviet gulag system, more prisoners per capita than South Africa at the depths of Apartheid. More African Americans are behind bars right now than were held as slaves at any given time before the Civil War. Nearly two and a half million Americans are behind bars. One in three black men will spend time in prison during their lifetime. And yet not a single banker responsible for the Great Recession has been arrested. More and more American prisoners are being held in solitary confinement which Amnesty International calls torture.
Two years ago, in a landmark five to four decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that prison over population here in California was so horrendous it violated our constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. One of the most conservative Supreme Courts in American history ordered California to reduce its number of prisoners by 30,000. California Governor Jerry Brown had exactly two years to comply with that order, and he is now asking for an extension.
On today’s program California inmates stage the largest prison protest in state history including a hunger strike. We talk with Los Angeles Times Reporter Paige St. John who has just returned from Pelican Bay Supermax prison in Northern California where the hunger strike is being spearheaded, and we learn why Pelican Bay was called one of the ten worst prisons in America by Mother Jones magazine.
We ask the important question: Is our prison system a crime? We’re building more prisons in America, those beds have to be filled, especially the ones in private prisons. The cops are coming for you. You or someone you know is going to do time. So it’s no longer a question of how we treat prisoners, it’s how we treat each other. America’s prison system is a disgrace, and there’s a very good chance you’re going to bear witness to just how disgraceful it is up close and personal. We’re no longer talking hypotheticals. On today’s program you learn what you or someone you know is in for with Los Angeles Times Correspondent Paige Saint John.
Also on the show, our film critic Michael Snyder stops by to discuss Woody Allen’s latest masterpiece. Please subsribe to this show for free on iTunes.