1. An American prisoner class exists that does not have the same rights, opportunities, or citizenship enjoyed by the rest of society.
2. All media regarding this prisoner class is negative and exists to further the marginalization of this growing group of Americans.
3. Institutional mechanisms exist to further isolate and marginalize this prisoner class. The most recognizable of these mechanisms is the second application (2ap), the question found everywhere—Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
4. The 2ap creates a line in society that can be answered yes, or no. Those who answer the 2ap yes are forced by application to accept second-class citizenship in the form of substandard housing, employment, and education.
5. As the prisoner class grows every day, an inevitable disruption of American society will occur.
The prisoner class in America lives as slaves. This statement is not based on the constitutionally grounded slavery experienced by those currently in prison. The 13th Amendment clearly allows slavery to exist within the prisoner-industrial-complex. However, the firmly established concept of recidivism that leads to further incarceration creates a system in which humans are held in perpetual bondage. The criminal justice system in the United States decapitalizes human beings and makes them slaves. And because the system never recapitalizes those made less than human, the problem that arises is simple—once a slave always a slave.
Today, the prisoner class in America is made up of those who are now out of prison and those who have pled guilty to a lesser crime in order to stay out of prison. In an interview on Frontline, Judge Michael McSpadden answered the following question:
FRONTLINE: So fundamentally, the system is the plea bargain?
McSPADDEN: The system right now is plea bargain, with a few cases being tried. Those few cases being tried set the standard for everybody in determining what to do with the 95 percent, 96 percent of the plea bargain cases. That’s exactly right. I wish it were just the opposite, but it will never be.
Both groups (those on parole/probation and those who have pled into the prisoner class) are statistically assured that a majority will be incarcerated sometime in the future.
According to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ):
“Recidivism is one of the most fundamental concepts in criminal justice. It refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime. Recidivism is measured by criminal acts that resulted in rearrest, re-conviction or return to prison with or without a new sentence during a three-year period following the prisoner’s release.”
The prisoner-industrial complex in the United States operates a perpetual machine of recidivism in which once caught in the gears the prisoner is never free again, caught forever in the Machine of Recidivism.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the prisoner is “A person who…is confined to a place or position.” The place, the prisoner-industrial-complex itself (the prison) is a set location in which slave labor is concentrated. The position in the broader society is the prisoner class in the United States. A group of over 100 million [a]mericans now share the lowest common denominator in society. This position in the social stratification of the United States could be referred to as the bottom rung, except the ladder analogy of American culture implies the ability to climb the rungs, which is no longer possible for the prisoner class.
The position of the prisoner class in America is constantly being reinforced by use of the 2ap. Prisoner theory states:
BELIEF 3. INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISMS EXIST TO FURTHER ISOLATE AND MARGINALIZE THIS PRISONER CLASS. THE MOST RECOGNIZABLE OF THESE MECHANISMS IS THE SECOND APPLICATION (2AP), THE QUESTION FOUND EVERYWHERE—HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CONVICTED OF A CRIME?
A yes or a no box follows the 2ap for the applicant to select. If the applicant chooses yes a space is provided for the obligatory comment/explanation. A pair of lines often follows this for the yes applicant to fill in the blank. It is a difficult task, one that cannot be avoided because in this technology and information driven environment no one can escape the background check. So the yes/prisoner must self-sacrifice on every application—the prisoner ever attempting to pull together some strong phrases that portray just the right amount of self-effacement. These few lines are the 2ap, an almost daily question that will follow the prisoner for the rest of life.
By answering yes on the 2ap the prisoner has admitted to being a criminal and a member of the prisoner class. Essentially telling the reader of the application, “yes, I have made really bad decisions and as such have been punished by the law of society.” In no way can the yes be thought of as advantageous to the application reader. Thus the 2ap works as a tool of negation, making the prisoner essentially self-excluded from the application process.
One of the central principles and grievances of the American Colonists was the fact they were taxed, but were not represented by the English Parliament. See United States. 114th Congress, 1st Session. No Taxation Without Representation Act. H.R. 1813. (2015), “The Congress finds the following:
(1) The phrase “no taxation without representation” was a rallying cry of many American colonists during the period of British rule in the 1760s and early 1770s. The slogan gained widespread notoriety after the passage of the Sugar Act on April 5, 1764.
(2) American colonists increasingly resented being levied taxes without having actual legislators seated and voting in Parliament in London. The idea that there should be no taxation without representation dated back even further. Benjamin Franklin stated, “it is suppos’d an undoubted Right of Englishmen not to be taxed but by their own Consent given thro’ their Representatives.”
(3) This issue became even more defined in 1765 with the passage of the Stamp Act which was the first true attempt to levy a direct tax on the American colonies. Ultimately the tax was repealed, but the idea of no taxation without representation persisted.
(4) Article I, [S]ection 2, [C]lause 1 of the United States Constitution, states, “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.”
The term “Electors” found in the United States Constitution, Article I, Section 2, Clause 1, does not guarantee any person in the United States the right to be an “Elector,” the right to vote/franchise. Thus, the majority of all Amendments to the United States Constitution empower more groups of citizens the right to vote, to be represented in the process of population taxation, and to be represented in all legislative actions of Congress. Although the right to vote is not universal in the United States, the right to vote was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly; See United Nations. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A/RES/217(III), Article 21 (1948):
“(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
Felony disenfranchisement is in direct opposition to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a declaration that arose directly from all the experience of the Second World War, representing the first worldwide expression of human rights to which all people are entitled. By allowing felony disenfranchisement the United States is in violation of the expression of the fundamental values, which are shared by all members of the international community. And it has had a profound influence on the development of international human rights law. Because countries have consistently invoked the Declaration for more than sixty years, it has become binding as a part of customary international law. As such, the United States is not in accord with The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Instead of allowing universal suffrage for all citizens/taxpayers living in the United States, the term “Elector,” has been the issue of most of the Amendments to the United States Constitution. The subject of this action is one of those Amendments, the Fifteenth Amendment, Section 1, which provides: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” The Petitioner has demonstrated that he was an involuntary servant based on the Thirteenth Amendment, Section 1: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
As stated, the Petitioner (Brian Malnes) is a patriot, a Disabled American Veteran who has fought for the very United States Constitution that is debated in this action. What would the American Colonists, the Founding Fathers, have said of an American Veteran, like themselves, who cannot vote in the Country he served? They would scream outrage…as they themselves fought and gave their lives for the ideal, “no taxation without representation.”