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More Lies from The SPOTLIGHT — March 16, 1998

Political Prisoners Used as Slave Labor

  • A hidden Third World economy exists inside the United States — in federal prisons.

America’s No. 1 growth industry is prisons. Increasingly, government- and privately-operated prisoner-based industries are competing in the American marketplace.

The prison industrial complex is rapidly becoming an essential component of the U.S. economy, say Eve Goldberg and Linda Evans, writing in Free America Newsmagazine.

Escalating tax dollars are channeled to building and maintaining modern, high-tech, escape-proof prisons. One hundred and fifty were built in 1995 alone. Closed military bases have had the razor wire atop their fences reversed (leaning inward), thereby creating instant concentration camps. Private, contract prisons are a thriving business.

The U.S. prison population, already one of the highest in the world at one million plus, is predicted to pass 1.4 million inmates by the year 2000. Counting those in local jails, 1.8 million people are behind bars in America — one in every 155 Americans. Some states, including California, spend more tax money on prisons than on higher education.


An increasing percentage of prisoners go to work every morning. But their jobs are usually inside prison walls and the pay often less than Third World rates. Prisons have become the company towns of the 1990s wherein the worker gets another day older and deeper in debt, as recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford in the 1950s.

The variety of products this modern American slave-worker produces is staggering. It is so impressive that unions and politicians are taking second looks at prison labor in a world of corporate downsizing and disappearing American jobs.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) is the latest to introduce corrective legislation with his H.R. 2758, currently in the House Judiciary Committee.

Prison corporations, such as Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR), which began in 1934, were created to attempt rehabilitation by offering prisoners a marketable vocational skill.

Through the years, these corporations have been developed and promoted into serious competition with private enterprise. In addition to prison clothing, industrial furniture, government signs and similar traditional products, 72 federal prisons now produce items as varied as exotic electronic components for the military, airplane parts, textiles rumored to be sold worldwide and sophisticated communications cable. UNICOR lists 45 categories of products on its web site.

UNICOR also contracts a wide variety of telephone and bookkeeping services. Some of the bookkeeping services, like making reservations for TWA, involve access to Social Security numbers and credit card numbers of citizens who have no idea they are giving personal information to convicts.

Federal agencies must, by law, first bid on UNICOR goods even if better quality or less expensive products can be obtained elsewhere, making the industry another mandated monopoly, with the usual bizarre results, according to critics.

Although there are federal restrictions on selling to the public, they don't apply to states. Oregon prisons, for instance, have their own Prison Blues jeans which successfully compete in the world market.


America’s prisons, traditionally based on punishment for convicted criminals, began a metamorphosis in 1962 when Dr. Edgar H. Schien of MIT introduced into them a series of new techniques.

These new techniques were essentially communist brain-washing, group-therapy ideas from the Korean War. By the late 1960s the concept had grown in some prisons into horrible misuses of psychology, drugs and psycho-surgery on inmates.

According to published reports, the Center for Correctional Research, in Butner, North Carolina, was built especially to experiment on the mind control of prisoners.

In 1968, after presidential candidate Robert Kennedy was assassinated, Congress passed the Omnibus Safe Streets and Crime Control Act which connected with the Law Enforcement Assistance Act (LEAA) and changed the whole concept of policing, criminal handling and court procedures in America.

Because it was a system of federal grants to local police, J. Edgar Hoover insisted that no funds would be given unless the police received training by the FBI. His demand was honored, eventually transforming the friendly, small-town beat cop into a Third World federale in mind set.

Late in 1966, LEAA established a New Orleans pilot human relations course for police officers. Representatives of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith were instrumental in the program as paid consultants. This may have been the start of the ADL influence over peace officers' and courts' concepts of deciding which Americans are good and which are bad.

This bent is evident today in the inclination to arrest and prosecute constitutionally motivated non-conformists with more vigor than street criminals who harm other citizens, as well as the willingness of courts to misapply RICO statutes and hate crime sentencing enhancements.

Subsequently, the ADL cultivated a cozy relationship with police departments nationwide that has been abused.

For example, in 1993, ADL agents were caught red-handed in possession of confidential police records from the San Francisco and Los Angeles police departments.

Two years after that, ADL influence was responsible for the misguided multi-jurisdictional police raid on The SPOTLIGHT’s West Coast headquarters.

In the early 1970s, some prisons, overcrowded, escalated their experimental control with drugs and forced behavior modification, using sophisticated CIA methods. This resulted in violence and chaos such as the Attica riots in New York. Consequently many judges began allowing easy probation for many offenders.

The great sea-change came in 1975 when, in the midst of mixed cries both for reform and a national moratorium on prison construction, the U.S. Department of Labor researched prisons as vehicles for increasing individual responsiveness and production for profit.

Congress saw possibilities in prison industries for profit. In 1979 the Hawes-Cooper Act was passed. It allowed interstate transportation of prison goods while establishing the Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program.

By 1982 Congress was habitually mandating sentences for specific crimes. This sent prison populations soaring. In six months there was a 7 percent increase. Another 10 percent addition came within a year.

Consistently reported CIA involvement in the world drug trade, with the United States as the primary consumer, worked in tandem with congressional anti-drug mandates to increase prison populations.

For example, in 1985 the Omnibus Drug Enforcement Education and Control Act provided $3 billion for prisons and increased penalties for drug offenses.

A French newspaper, Le Monde, said U.S. lawyers amount to a ruling class and our judiciary intervenes at all levels. The Supreme Court ruled in 1983 that police were immune from prosecution if caught lying when giving testimony in criminal cases.

The Rand Corporation — a globalist think tank and military supplier — began pushing for private, contract prisons in 1983.

By 1988 drug arrests had reached 1,155,000 per year. Seven years later it was at 1.5 million arrests. Consequently, federal prisons more than doubled in population during the last 10 years.

Between 1985-94, drug related convictions increased 36 percent at the state level. During the same period, drug related convictions increased 71 percent at the federal level. The majority of new convictions were for sale or possession of minor amounts of controlled substances.

By 1990 globalist monopolies were vigorously downsizing America’s work force, putting whole cities of people on the streets. As though on cue, Congress’s draconian appetite for prisoners and slave labor profits hit its zenith with the Gramm-Gingrich National Drug and Crime Emergency Act.

If passed, the act would have put the nation under five years of emergency powers, legitimizing a police state and presidential dictatorship, as set up by Congresses beginning with the Emergency Powers Act of March 9, 1933.

The 1990 bill authorized concentration camps for expected roundups of criminals. Sixteen Republican senators co-signed it. Eleven, including Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (Miss.) and Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah) Jesse Helms (N.C.), Strom Thurmond (S.C.), Connie Mack (Fla.) Conrad Burns (Mt.), John McCain (Ariz.), Don Nickles (Okla.) Daniel Coats (Ind.), Al D'Amato (N.Y.) and Mitch McConnell (Ken.), are still in office.

The SPOTLIGHT’s Mike Blair won a Project Censored award for breaking the story in The SPOTLIGHT issues of August 6 and October 15, 1990.

The bill, introduced in both houses, proposed measures so restrictive and so severe as to sweep aside the guarantees of the Bill of Rights, commented Bill Moyers of PBS on a national telecast, but virtually no one in the press tracked the progress and eventual defeat of this bill except the weekly SPOTLIGHT.

Today both state and federal prisons are being built at a phenomenal rate. There are a growing number of private contractors in business including Corrections Corporation of America, which operates as a middleman for more than 100 businesses worldwide.

In addition, there is Wackenhut, run by a bevy of former FBI and CIA figures, and Weastic Corp. which came under auto union fire for furnishing Honda car parts at cut rates while paying inmates 35 cents an hour.

These corporations operate strictly for profit. The inmates in their charge are human fodder for exploitation no different than Chinese slave laborers or the wretched souls of this century’s Soviet gulags, according to critics.


Globalist corporations, always concerned with the bottom line, see nothing wrong with tying crime to corporate profits, as one representative put it.

An example of corporate tunnel vision is William Meehan, president of U.S. Technologies of Austin, Texas. Meehan sold his electronics plant, laying off 150 citizens, then reopened in a nearby prison.

Americans should question a system that siphons off ordinary citizens for manufactured crimes, then pays them slave wages for production of products which compete in the open market while taxpayers ante up an average $20,000 per year, per inmate.

It is a system that becomes home to illegal aliens who are not only supported by U.S. taxpayers better than at home, but even earn a few Yankee dollars to send back while making global industries highly profitable. And it is a system that undercuts national wages to the benefit of corporate profits as surely as Third World child and slave labor.