This Dutch documentary from October 1999 explores The Winners & The Losers of the US “War On Drugs.” A failed from the start policy and with a treasury depleting budget, the war on drugs has become a global “war” which has resulted in generations of corruption, greed, tyranny, and death. Many wonder what the impact of this “perpetual motion” will be on the lives of ordinary Americans, as well as the citizens of other sovereign nations.
The War on Drugs is a campaign of prohibition and foreign military aid and military intervention being undertaken by the United States government, with the assistance of participating countries, intended to both define and reduce the illegal drug trade. This initiative includes a set of drug policies of the United States that are intended to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of illegal psychoactive drugs. The term “War on Drugs” was first used by President Richard Nixon in 1971
“Prison–Industrial complex” (PIC) is a term used to attribute the rapid expansion of the US inmate population to the political influence of private prison companies and businesses that supply goods and services to government prison agencies. The term is analogous to the military–industrial complex that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of in his famous 1961 farewell address. Such groups include corporations that contract prison labor, construction companies, surveillance technology vendors, lawyers, and lobby groups that represent them. Activists have described the Prison-Industrial Complex as perpetuating a belief that imprisonment is a quick fix to underlying social problems such as homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy.
The promotion of prison building as a job creator and the use of inmate labor are also cited as elements of the Prison-Industrial Complex. The term often implies a network of actors who are motivated by making profit rather than solely by punishing or rehabilitating criminals or reducing crime rates. Proponents of this view believe that the desire for monetary gain has led to the growth of the prison industry and the number of incarcerated individuals. These views are often shared by people who fear or condemn excessive use of power by government, particularly when related to law enforcement and military affairs.
The Rockefeller drug laws, signed in May 1973 by New York’s Governor at the time Nelson Rockefeller, are considered to be the beginnings of the Prison Industrial Complex. They established strict mandatory prison sentences for drug offenders for the sale or possession of illegal narcotics, based on the drug’s weight. This event was noted as one of the main driving forces of mass incarceration in the U.S. and it didn’t quite achieve the effect that its creators had in mind.
A private or for profit prison, jail, or detention center is a place in which individuals are physically confined or interned by a third party that is contracted by a government agency. Private prison companies typically enter into contractual agreements with governments that commit prisoners and then pay a per diem or monthly rate for each prisoner confined in the facility.
Today, the privatization of prisons refers both to the takeover of existing public facilities by private operators and to the building and operation of new and additional prisons by for-profit prison companies.
The war on drugs has been going on for more than three decades. Potentially nearly 500,000 Americans are imprisoned on drug charges. In 1980 the number was 50,000. Billions in taxpayer dollars were spent in fighting the war on drugs. As a result of the incarceration obsession, the United States operates the largest prison system on the planet. Today, 89 percent of police departments have paramilitary units, and 46 percent have been trained by active duty armed forces. The most common use of paramilitary units is serving drug-related search warrants, which usually involve no-knock entries into private homes.
Private companies in the United States operate 264 correctional facilities, housing almost 99,000 adult convicts. Companies operating such facilities include the Corrections Corporation of America, the GEO Group, Inc, and Community Education Centers. The GEO Group was formerly known as Wackenhut Securities. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has a capacity of more than 80,000 beds in 65 correctional facilities. The GEO Group operates 61 facilities with a capacity of 49,000 offender beds. Most privately run facilities are located in the southern and western portions of the United States and include both state and federal offenders.
*NOTE: The film begins (2 to 3 minutes) with Dutch being spoken, but the rest of the film is in English with Dutch subtitles.
Directed by Frank Wiering for VPRO Television