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Designer Orange

by on July 4, 2019

Designer Orange

by Marco M. Pardi

Many Alabamans delight in the chain gangs’ reappearance. Drivers roll down their windows to taunt the prisoners, barking like dogs. Others look on the predominantly black gangs and feel nostalgia for the South they knew as children. “I love seeing ’em in chains,” one elderly white woman said, “They ought to make them pick cotton.” Brent Staples, “The Chain Gang Show: Humiliating Prisoners for Political Profit.” New York Times Magazine. 17 September 1995

All comments are welcome and will receive a response.

My use of the term Designer should be obvious; I mean those who designed the concept of privately run, for-profit incarceration, not those who designed the ubiquitous orange jumpsuits. Furthermore, I will clarify a few items. People often interchange the words jail and prison. A jail is a holding area for those awaiting trial, those convicted and awaiting sentence, and those serving short term sentences usually under local law. A classification center is for those who, having been convicted and sentenced, are being examined to determine the level of security required to house them. A prison is for someone sentenced to serve a sentence of greater duration and severity than what would be served in a jail.

The term bail comes from the “Old Bailey”, the central court and jail/prison complex of London centuries ago. A bailiff was an officer of the court charged with keeping order and ensuring that only those properly certified as “barristers” (attorneys) and those accused and transferred from the jail could enter the court to present or defend the case or stand trial. A physical bar separated the court from the jail. Hence the saying, “passing the bar”, a barrister.

My intertwined careers have been somewhat unusual. Over the years I have been the sole or lead investigator responsible for gathering the evidence to successfully send several people to lengthy federal or military prison terms.

I have interviewed prisoners in “road camps” (the “chain gangs” seen cleaning along public roads), and military and state jails and prisons.

The United States is well known as having the world’s largest private prison population. In 2016 8.5 percent, or 128,063, were incarcerated in private prisons. That’s out of a total of 1.5 million people in state and federal prisons

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ):

Approximately 22,660 federal inmates are housed in private prisons, roughly 12 percent of the total inmate population. The Bureau of Prisons paid $639 million to private prisons in fiscal year 2014, averaging $22,159 per prisoner.

CoreCivic, the old Corrections Corporation of America, and the GEO Group run over 170 private prisons in the U.S. Most of the detention facilities currently holding people who crossed the southern border, (most found the Border Patrol in order to seek asylum; they turned themselves in, the BP didn’t find them) are being held in privately owned facilities. The cost to the American taxpayer is $795 per day per man, woman, and child. Yet, the regime is calling for longer detention and far more arcane processes in the examination of asylum requests. It doesn’t take much to understand the motive for this: the Billionaires Club of America, currently running the government and giving itself huge tax breaks, is making a daily fortune from these policies. Privately owned prisons and detention centers. The rush to the border was spurred by these same people, the Club, when they conspired to place Trump in the White House. Trump’s claim of building a wall echoed through the world and people decided if they were going to try to get in and request asylum they had to do it quickly, before the wall went up. Thus, having created the problem, Trump’s club members came up with the answer: privately owned prisons and detention camps with the U.S. tax payers footing all the bills.

By now most readers of this site have seen the published photographs, including those released by DHS, showing crowds of children, some in diapers, caged on bare concrete floors, hundreds of adults packed into standing room only cells with one sink and one toilet, lights left on 24 hours a day and little or no access to running water. The claims women have made of being forced to drink from the toilet, while initially disputed by the regime, have been verified by the FaceBook posts of the 9,500 Border Patrol officers on a site dedicated to denigrating the migrants and U.S. congressional representatives of color.

When I first saw these photos I was reminded of the Lubyanka and the Lefortovo prisons in the old Soviet Union. Each had dozens of prisoners stuffed into cells built for six or at most eight. They were incubators for tuberculosis and other contagious diseases.

At the first release of photos taken and authorized by the Department of Homeland Security the purpose of the release was clear. This was not a confession of wrongdoing. The officials knew fully well the photos would be picked up and broadcast around the world, especially in the countries from which most of the migrants came. In the same way I saw road camps display “the hole” – literally a hole in the ground with a locked cover over it to house a troublesome prisoner – even giving new prisoners a chance to “try it out”, these photos were and are intended to send a message. Gone is the Statue of Liberty, with her “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” message. As the American

Fuhrer himself said (paraphrasing), We don’t want people from shit hole countries. We want people like Norwegians. The photos released by the regime are intended to terrify people in Central America and stop them from seeking even legal asylum. The Muslim ban, the closure of border checkpoints where asylum may be filed for, the detention of people of all ages in conditions worthy of United Nations intervention, and the publishing of photos as warning posters are all part of the White Nationalist agenda which is at the heart of this administration.

Following on Rush Limbaugh’s pronouncement that drinking out of the toilets was better than what the migrants previously had at home, the Fuhrer tweeted today that the migrants were living in far better conditions and fed better in these detention camps than where they came from. No showers for weeks, no diaper changes for the infants, cold “Tex-Mex” food, and no privacy when using the one toilet per cell. That’s better?

In the 1990’s I was contracted to conduct a qualitative study for a joint Pennsylvania State University – Fed. Ctrs for Disease Control & Prevention nutrition study. At three sites across the country, Pennsylvania, California, and Georgia I interviewed groups of women with children between 2 and 5 years old. The separate groups were Anglo (White), African-American (Black) and Latino (newly arrived, mostly Central American and speaking zero English). Spending 90 minutes with each group I probed intensively for information on how and what they fed their young children and how they conducted the feeding event. On each of the indices the Latinos scored far higher on nutritional content and far higher on perceptions of healthy weight and BMI (Body Mass Index). They had little to no knowledge of “Tex-Mex” stuff passed off as “Mexican food” in American restaurants. The peer-reviewed study was published in the late 1990’s.

So what’s the answer? The United States has a long history of providing assistance to other countries. I spent five years on a PASA (participating agency service agreement) placing me with USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and participated in various Embassy sessions with representatives of several countries, including Cuba. With the collaboration of USAID and the State Department it is entirely possible to address the internal problems of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, all of which I have been to. Diplomacy can bring about the removal of corrupt officials and the placement of U.S. police and military advisors can reduce the incentive among local police and military to allow drug trafficking and the problems it causes.

But what about corruption at the top? Let’s be honest. In the 2016 elections the Russians simply played the same game we have been playing for many decades, only they did it better than we ever have. The U.S. intelligence community is not just a passive recipient of information; it puts that information to work, even when it has to manufacture information in order to affect domestic perceptions in target countries. The result: regime change.

Our regime, composed of the billionaires whose construction and support companies will profit immensely from the tax payer funded billions of dollars poured into the wall, has cut the funding for the U.S. State Department by up to 60%. Experienced and brilliant career diplomats have left in droves, replaced by “acting directors” and other people who cannot pass an FBI background check. The same is true across the panoply of U.S. agencies.

For a small fraction of the projected costs of the wall, the United States could fund the diplomacy and the advisors cited above. For a fraction of the costs of the prisons the U.S. could treat drug abuse and addiction as the public health crisis it is and fund treatment centers and prevention programs.

Up until now we have paid the price for our own corruption. Now, major sections of the world are paying the price for our corruption.

I had an orange jumpsuit years ago. But then it was issued to those of us service members who were flying risky missions over water. The color was to facilitate rescue, not capture.

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  1. Dana permalink

    Marco, I’ve lately been thinking about the risk for all sorts of illnesses in these detention “facilities,” especially when diaper-changing is a necessity.

    Those who clearly support what’s going on aren’t considering the agents who are forced to work in these centers. I would venture many didn’t foresee this when choosing their career, so I don’t vilify them all.


  2. Thank you, Dana. Excellent points. As you know, the agents themselves dare not speak out for fear of losing their careers. Still, there are some whistleblowers who have been appearing on television in disguise.

    As a father, I would find it impossible to do that job.


  3. jkent33 permalink

    As always a very enlightening post. The subject matter unfolded into a narrative that has been heavy on my heart, especially as each day reveals the deplorable conditions at these way overcrowded holding centers. It leaves all of us to only attempt to imagine the level of pain and agony these poor individuals must face to remain alive. If there is a hell it may be easier to accept than what is going on each day at these holding facilities. Maybe one of the most challenging things we face is the helplessness we all endure. This issue has been allowed to grow in size requiring major means to just solve the tip of the iceberg. We can no longer look at any Govt officials to tackle a solution. Currently, at least that’s all I can envision with the wherewithal. It goes well beyond simply allocating the funds. We have plenty of funds. This has reached a size requiring a full force department whose only goal is to act with alacrity measured in hours and days. Otherwise, these people are literally going to start dropping dead. In some ways far more important is going be the mental impact embedded in the minds of everyone; especially the children facing life already handicapped by poor nutrition and abuse. How do you wipe the slate removing the trauma they all find themselves in right now? I watched a news report of a room filled with physical solutions at the Clint, TX center. Necessary sanitary products, bottled water, and other commodities on the shelves. I felt the smoke going up my butt because what was shown would have barely been adequate for one day’s usage. I personally have no mercy for any of these people being paid to act as caretakers. No job is worth their dignity to perform as asked. (Think a structured walkout.) Anyway, thanks for taking the time to outline this criminal activity going on right under the noses of every citizen of the US. As the adage goes: It has to get worse to get better. Well, in my mind it is already worse…


    • Thank you, Jerry. Your comments express the pain that many feel, and few will speak. Yet any thinking person must wonder what the regime has in mind for its own citizens, especially those who express dissent. The common saying, It can’t happen here, is now no longer valid. It has. And it is.


  4. Julie permalink

    It’s very hard for me to understand how such inhumane situations exist, I guess the majority of people either arn’t aware or block out this in relation to these conditions in jails, otherwise I would have suspected the power of people would enforce change. But then again I guess it’s not that simple. It’s never been a fair world and my mum said your life is determined by where you are born, i used to think that was a bit of an extreme statement but now I’m older I feel there is much truth in this. By the way i really agreed with your suggestions at the end of this blog. Marco you should have run for President, you are brilliant 👌


    • Thank you, Julie. Your mum was right in her day, but we now live in a 24 hour news cycle with some remarkable incisive reporting. Of course, the regime labels this “fake news” when it exposes the truth. Still, there are places where getting news takes effort, even if we seek it via internet. Those places are tempting, but I feel compelled to speak for the futures of my daughter and grandchildren, as well as all the others who will inherit the outcome of the current corruption.

      I’ve firmed up my conviction that people who run for president of this country have an underlying personality disorder. But I’m spared from the choice. As a Naturalized citizen I’m ineligible. Certainly some readers will heave a sigh of relief.


  5. As usual, this has been an interesting, well written, and comprehensive article on a subject which should concern every thinking being. My apologies for the delay in responding, but as you know, my life has been non-stop for the past few weeks. I first read the article on the day it was written (or rather, late that night), and have been thinking about it each day since then. I have known several people who have been incarcerated in local jails and prisons, and while it was not something they enjoyed, none of them had to endure what the “inmates” in these for-profits do on a daily basis. It may be a matter of maximizing profit, but it’s more than obvious that these people (the ones who own and run these horrific facilities) have no sense of humanity. The question I keep asking myself is this: Which came first, the problem or the solution? It is not beyond my ability to imagine that the “problem” was intentionally induced.


    • What I meant to say was that I could imagine the concept of the for-profit prisons came first, and the problem induced in order to fill them.


    • Thank you, Rose. Indeed, I’ve thought of you every day in the hope that matters could get resolved. Along with all the rest of your duties this must have been extremely taxing. Hopefully, your comment suggests the worst has passed.

      I don’t know the current status of these agreements, but initially the private companies got contracts with States which allowed them to sue the State if the State does not provide a minimum number of prisoners. You can imagine the effect on the judicial and the sentencing processes. So, you are quite correct: The solution was put in place before the problem. All that remained was for the federal, state, or local agencies to find enough people to lock up. Very big money for a tiny number of owners, who then contribute to (buy) a presidential candidate such as Trump.


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