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Concept.png Prison Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
A converted prison gymnasium at San Quentin, 2007
Interest ofJosh Begley

Prisons are places where people are held against their will, typically by authorities, generally as a result of a legal infraction or on grounds of poor mental health, although Illegal detention is increasingly used on suspected "terrorists". Prisons around the world vary widely in appearance.[1]

Official Narrative

The official narrative is rather confused on this point. Wikipedia lists several justifications for locking up people, with little in the way of empirical evidence. As with its partner institution, school, discussion is encourage about how it should happen rather than why or whether.


As Ivan Illich, Angela Davis and others have argued, the evidence appears to show that such treatment tends to promote rather than reduce crime, so makes sense only from a point of view of retribution rather than harm reduction or damage restoration.

War on Drugs

Full article: Rated 4/5 “War on Drugs”

The "War on Drugs" has provided a huge boost to prisoner numbers (now around half US prisoners are incarcerated for non-violent drug offences), and allowed prison populations to keep growing even as rates of other crimes dropped.


Full article: US/Prison

The US locks up a larger proportion of its citizens than any other nation state. Non-violent prisoners have been locked up for life. The prison industry is largely privatised.[citation needed]


Confining people against their will uses up a lot of resources, and so in this age of privatised prisons allows a small number of people to garner immense profits, providing an incentive to increase incarceration rates. Some judges have been found to be involved in corrupt "cash-for-prisoners" scams.

Prisoner abuse

In 2015, EFF reported that a FOIA request had revealed at least one inmate in a South Carolina prison was receiving more than 37 years in isolation for using Facebook.[2] In 2015, an autopsy of Samuel Harrell revealed that he died not, as authorities had claimed an overdose of synthetic marijuana (K2), but of homicide after "physical altercation with corrections officers" (interviews suggested that as many as 20 corrections officers kicked, punched and dragged him down a flight of stairs while he was handcuffed).[3]

In 2020 The Lancet published a letter by 117 doctors from 18 countries that concluded:

“Should Assange die in a UK prison, as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has warned, he will effectively have been tortured to death. Much of that torture will have taken place in a prison medical ward, on doctors' watch. The medical profession cannot afford to stand silently by, on the wrong side of torture and the wrong side of history, while such a travesty unfolds. In the interests of defending medical ethics, medical authority, and the human right to health, and taking a stand against torture, together we can challenge and raise awareness of the abuses detailed in our letters. Our appeals are simple: we are calling upon governments to end the torture of Assange and ensure his access to the best available health care before it is too late. Our request to others is this: please join us...”
117 doctors (February 2020) [4]

See Also



Page nameDescription
Belmarsh Prison
RheinwiesenlagerUS army run concentration camps in Western Germany


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Private Prisons Criminalized Rapletter10 August 2014Unknown
Document:The Economics of Incarcerationarticle5 February 2012Nile Bowie"The number of people imprisoned under state and federal custody increased 772% percent between 1970 and 2009, largely due to the incredible influence private corporations wield against the American legal system..."
File:MaleRapeInUSPrisons.pdfreportApril 2001